The portrayal of Labor issues in two Films


In the early 20th Century, workers’ rights was no a wellestablished concept. Employers were notorious for exploiting theirpoor workers in order to maximize their profits. Workers on the otherhand could not air their grievances for the fear of dismissal. Tradeunions were a foreign concept then. In other words, workers were lefton their own. Just like in modern times, early films were areflection of the issues that affected the society. Two such filmsthat sought to highlight the plight of workers were Metropolis(1986) and Modern Times (1936). The discussion andanalysis of the aforementioned movies will compare and contrast thedepictions of labor and industry in the films.

Both films use their platform to address current societal issues atthat time. Modern Times was shot at a time when Ford Ltd wasexploiting its workers in order to beat competition from newentrants. Some of the measures that the company adopted were inhumanin the least. Metropolis was based on a pressing issue that waseating up the German society in the 1980’s industrial unrest. AfterGermany lost the Second World War, a massive economic downturn led towidespread unemployment. People took to the streets to show theirdissent for the sad state of affairs.

The two films go to greater lengths to show the whole world thatindeed workers were suffering in industries. The images, scenes, andaudio all portray the exact brutal treatment that workers were goingthrough during that time. In Modern Times, the producers show imagesof workers who are stressed in a motor industry. In metropolis, thecreators of the film see to it that they show images of workersprotesting on the streets. They both show the real images to puttheir point across.

The techniques used to depict labor and industrialization issuesdiffer between the two films. Modern Times relies on some bit ofcomedy to address matters of concern. The scene where the factorymanager considers using a robot to feed workers instead of them goingfor long lunch breaks was very humorous. The writers made sure to addsome humor to make the plot more captivating.

On the opposite side, Metropolis uses fiction to advance its plot. Atthe same time, the scenes of the movies are not humorous at all. Themood of the movie is rather serious in comparison to Modern Times.Maybe they thought that a serious plot would depict the gravity ofthe issue.

The two movies depict labor and industry issues of two differentcountries. Modern Times film is based on the American dogma ofFordism. Fordism is a system of producing goods and services in largemass, where the producer gains an advantage in the economies ofscale. During the time, industries would overwork their workers tothe extent of losing their humanity. Metropolis is based on theeconomic hardships that Germany was going through during the coldwar. The division of Germany into East and West Germany had clearlytaken a toll on the country’s economy.

In conclusion, the paper compares two films that depict labor andindustrial issues. Metropolis displays the industrial woes thatGermany workers were going through in the 1980’s. Modern Times airsthe plight of American industry workers in the 1930’s. Modern Timesuses the tactic of humor to pass across an important message.Metropolis is more of a fiction film, which seeks to address seriousmatters affecting the society.


Metropolis. 1986. Retrieved from&lt accessed July 26, 2016.

Modern Times. 1936. Retrieved from &lt &gt accessedJuly 26, 2016.