Lang & von Harbou - Metropolis (film)

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Through the lens of the Dramatica theory of story, all human stories can be shown to embody elements of the structure of concern. However, sometimes a story comes along which reflects the Adizes structure of concern model in its purest form. One such story is the epic and archetypal film Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang and co-written by Lang and Thea von Harbou.

In Metropolis, a caste of thinkers and planners (A-Administrators) control the city and enjoy all of the wealth and comfort that the city affords. The leader of the city is Johann 'Joh' Fredersen. They do so at the expense of a caste of enslaved workers (P-Producers), headed by the lead worker Grot. In the midst of this inequity, Maria, a beautiful visionary (E-Entrepreneur) speaks of a better future - where the head (the thinking/planning caste) and the hands (the worker caste) are joined by a mediator - the "heart" of Metropolis. Joh Fredersen's son Freder steps in to play this role (I-Integrator).

These characters are pure PAEI types, playing out a drama which, in Adizes organizational lifecycle terms is a transition through Adolescence towards Prime. In order for the organization called Metropolis to continue to grow and develop, an integrator has to help institutionalize a vision. The vision is initially articulated by a single person, but it has to become part of the constitution of the city. This organizational Adolescence is paralleled by the passage from innocence to experience/youth to manhood of the main character, Freder Fredersen.

Maria is the most interesting character in the drama, since she embodies both the visionary and disruptive aspects of E, seen in both positive and negative terms. The figure of Maria is sometimes the beautiful evangelical love interest of Freder, and sometimes an impersonator, a machine in disguise, a seductress robot who was initially designed as a replacement for Hel - Freder's mother and the ex-lover of Rotwang, the robot's creator. All around the Maria character we find hope and disruption, honesty and deception, inspiration and seduction, all of the ambivalences of E.

At the end of the movie, the role of E (Maria) remains undetermined. We have the Integrator (Freder) bringing together the hands of his father Joh Fredersen (Administrator) and of Grot the worker (Producer), to clasp each other in the sealing of a new deal or new ruling relations for Metropolis. But Maria the shapeshifter, the one who brought Freder forward into his new role and supplied the vision he enacted, remains offstage in the final moment, perhaps to be marginalized and excluded once again as the new system of government sets itself up.

In Adizes lifecycle theory, organizations in decline lose their E. The fact that Maria's vision enabled the final handshake, but without a role for her, suggests that the three men may create a new order that resolves the contradictions of the old order without carrying the seeds for further renewal. This remains uncertain in the resolution of this story, placing Metropolis in Adolescence, on the cusp of Prime maturity, but still in danger of premature aging or the divorce of head and hands.

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