Fritz Lang

Weimar Culture and the Female Cyborg

Metropolis - Green Cyborg

 

I clearly recall the appearance of the [Tiller Girls] in the season of their glory. When they formed an undulating snake, they radiantly illustrated the virtues of the conveyor belt; when they tapped their feet in fast tempo, it sounded like business, business...when they kept repeating the same movements without ever interrupting their routine, one envisioned an uninterrupted chain of autos gliding from the factories into the world, and believed that the blessings of prosperity had no end. (Siegfried Kracauer, "Girls and Crisis")i

 

 

The ambivalent relationship towards woman and the machine expressed in Post World War I Weimar cultural constructions signals a fear of modernization, Americanization, Fordism, Taylorism, and of the New Woman figure. German cultural critics from the political left and right articulated the double dread of technology and the female body, which took shape in the creation of machine as femme fatale.

The notion of woman as machine is an historical tension addressed by Weimar Sex Reformers who were concerned with contraception and the rationalization of female sexuality. The conflation of woman and machine also appears in the essays of progressive social critic Siegfried Kracauer. This form of cultural critique provides an historical backdrop for the reading of Weimar filmic texts. In Fritz Lang's film Metropolis (1926), the image of the robotic femme fatale represents the conflation of technology and woman, which must be controlled.