Conformity is the process of creating a society that is led by a central power, manipulated to believe in purely the ideals and restrictions of that said power. This conformity is achieved through various means of propaganda, oppression, fear and other controlled factors that oppress any sense of individualism. Both Fritz Lang’s film “Metropolis” and George Orwell’s novel, “1984” contain heavy themes of conformity and address it through a range of visual and verbal techniques.
The idea of glorifying a totalitarian state by conforming its people to its standards is clearly defined in both 1984 and Metropolis as a dystopic vision. 1984 was written for the purpose of warning readers about the future of totalitarian states and regimes and how this use of power could disempower the civilians. In both 1984 and Metropolis, conformity is achieved by the central figures, Jon Frederson and Big Brother, to achieve uniformity in their community to gain totalitarian rule and control. In the context of 1984, Oceania represents the ideal state of conformity and the totalitarian regime, with all members of the outer party having to wear identical overalls which ultimately oppressed any sense of individualism. This is also evident in Metropolis, where the workers of the underground wear the exact same uniform as each other. In the work shift change scene, the workers uniforms are presented as black against a white background, further emphasising them as merely a mass of individual-less workers rather than their own individual beings. This view is further supported by Mark R. Hillegas who argues that in dystopic worlds where totalitarian regime governs the people, “freedom is eliminated and individuality crushed”.
Ignorance is another key concern that heavily impacted the ultimate conformity of both societies in Metropolis and 1984 In 1984, the slogan of the party, “War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength” is another example of the ignorance that is used by the government to conform the minds into their own ideals and beliefs. It explores how the individuals of Oceania has been conditioned to blindly follow the ideals of the government. This sense of ignorance is also explored in Metropolis, where the workers of the underground city blindly follow cyborg Maria and in the process, endanger the lives of their children and homes.
The dehumanisation of the lower classes of society is also evident in both texts. In Metropolis, the workers are seen as subhuman, merely extensions of the machines they govern. This is supported by the Moloch scene where the workers trudge blindly into Moloch’s mouth as