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November 13, 2011

Last night I experienced another interesting example of synchronicity.  The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra presented Metropolis, a silent film.  The orchestra played the sound track (really good) while the movie  was shown on a big screen.  The movie was an amazing experience—fascinating and thought provoking.

Metropolis was made in Germany in 1927 by Fritz Lang and is supposed to be about the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.  We’d bought tickets for the show back in January, little knowing how timely the subject would become.

Before I get to the synchronicity,  first let me tell you a little about the movie.

It is very strange in  that silent movie way.  The Metropolis is this giant art deco city built by a mega industrialist.  He and the “Managers” live fantastically comfortable  and privileged lives as do their sons. (They don’t seem to have any daughters.)

The workers, on the other hand, live and work in “The Depths” and they are portrayed as broken automatons mindlessly operating bizarre and complicated machines and responding only to the giant steam whistle which marks the beginning and the end of their ten hour shifts.

The big boss’s son starts wondering about why he has it so good when the workers exist only to make money for the Managers, and he sets about to do something about it.  The film then embarks on a series of wild art deco science fiction daring rescue mob violence scenes and, to make long story short, all’s well that ends well.

What made the experience particularly interesting is that the Occupy Auckland protest (a New Zealand version of Occupy Wall Street) was going on right outside the Town Hall where the concert was held.

My wife and I had arrived early and decided to have a walk around the tent city.

Compared to other major orchestras, the NZSO has a wonderfully relaxed dress code to encourage a wider audience.   Nevertheless, I felt a little conspicuous wandering around talking to the people and taking pictures.  Unfortunately I was taking pics with my new mobile phone which I can’t understand (another story altogether) so some of the best pictures came out blurry or non-existent.  But you get the idea:

The sign above says:  “It is well enough that people do not understand our banking and monetary system, for it they did I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow” –Henry Ford.

The tent city is right next to the Auckland Town Hall where the Orchestra plays.

Everyone we met was friendly and interesting and welcoming, especially the security guy at the entrance with whom we spent a bit of time chatting and he even posed for a special photo for us while doing a little guitar haka:

And I got a bracelet to show my solidarity:

Walking around the tent city and interacting with the people there was valuable and it was a great way to lead into watching Metropolis. 

The theme of the movie, and the means to the reconciliation between the workers and management is the recognition that everyone should be working
for the same side and is interdependent.  The head (management) needs a mediator with the hands (the workers) and the best mediator between the head and the hands is the heart.

It isn’t such a bad idea in the real world as well. Perhaps a little less of me and a bit more of us is the answer.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2011 11:15 am

    Interesting post, and interesting timing. Says something about this 84-year-old movie that it still feels vital, you know?

    P.S. You know how that movie seems really old? It’s only 3 years old than Clint Eastwood. Just sayin’.

    • November 16, 2011 11:39 am

      That makes me wonder if Clint Eastwood movies will have the same staying power. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly–probably. Dirty Harry not so much.

  2. Snoring Dog Studio permalink
    November 13, 2011 11:39 am

    “A global system of inequality…” And it is, and people have decided that enough is enough. I stopped by our Occupy Boise site the other day and gave them some money for food. Someone told me that they’re feeding the homeless as well as themselves. These aren’t self-entitled people who are lazy. They care about this country and show it far more than a lot of corporate tycoons and Wall Street traders do.

    • November 16, 2011 11:31 am

      The news today is that they are starting to close down sites in the US. There is also talk about closing down the Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin sites here. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  3. November 13, 2011 11:44 am

    The movie is so futuristic that with some color and a few special effects you may think it is a contemporary film. The Art Deco stands out. It is a unique harbinger of the coming decade when Europe falls into communism, nazism and fascism and dehumanizing mass production of industrialism. It is one of history’s greatest films in my opinion.

    • November 16, 2011 11:32 am

      Yes, while watching it I kept thinking that it was foretelling a grim future.

  4. November 13, 2011 12:02 pm

    You’ve packed so much into this post, Tom. Love it. Am gonna to ponder the idea of heart in the workplace.

  5. November 13, 2011 2:52 pm

    Good for you for acting on your curiosity and gaining perspective because of it.

  6. November 13, 2011 4:22 pm

    We have the same tent city in Wellington. Many of the local businesses are getting behind the ‘occupiers’ giving food etc and they are getting so much that they are sharing with the homeless and hungry.
    I would really love to see that movie. Haven’t heard about it down here yet. Will have to see where and when it is on. Thanks for sharing Thomas:)

  7. jacquelincangro permalink
    November 14, 2011 3:24 am

    It sounds like you had an interesting evening on so many levels. Metropolis is still relevant today even after all of these years.
    The Occupy Auckland movement seems peaceful. Thanks for sharing those signs and your experience. (Were the Occupiers in their tents?)

    • November 16, 2011 11:34 am

      Yes it was totally peaceful. It was fairly early so most people were out and about rather than in tents.

  8. November 14, 2011 4:24 am

    Synchonicity doubled: I’ve been walking around some other Occupy movements recently, including the one in DC.

    Amazing how similar my pictures are to yours. Well, except for the guitar haka one.

    The Tea Party was a weird American movement. (Is?) This one seems to be genuinely global. When did we last have that? Perhaps in the time of Fritz Lang, when it was called Socialism. But oh, that was the beginning of a time of trouble…

    • November 16, 2011 11:38 am

      A scary thought, especially as there are moves to close down the movements in several cities. You have to wonder about where the energy will go.

  9. November 14, 2011 9:56 am

    I think I’ll have a little Tea with my Occupie.

  10. November 15, 2011 2:58 am

    Great movie. Sadly, nothing has changed much. Happy to see that you have a vibrant Occupy movement going on in NZ.

  11. November 15, 2011 12:53 pm

    Wow, I’ve seen Nosferatu on the big screen with an orchestra but I think Metropolis woulde have been a much better exeprience. Very cool. (Yeah, I’m avoiding the Occupy thing.)

  12. November 15, 2011 4:27 pm

    Love the old silent movies. This one sounds very interesting especially with an orchestra playing inside and Occupy Auckland outside. I like your closing comment “Perhaps a little less of me and a bit more of us is the answer.”

    Everyone needs to be able to give something for the good of all. Right now no one wants to give up anything for a chance of making things better.

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