Through dystopian depictions, composers aim to
critique and inspire change in their own socio-political context as well as
represent the underlying anxieties of the time. Fritz Lang’s German
expressionist film Metropolis (1927) and George Orwell’s Swiftian satire
1984 (1949) dramatise the impact of repressive governments upon the
values of individual liberty and freedom. Lang explores deeper undercurrents of
the Weimar Republic through the examination of societal classes derived from
the instability of the regime, under stresses following WWI and the Treaty of
Versailles, highlighting the consequences of rapid industrialisation and the
dichotomy between the industrial capitalism and the underclass. Conversely,
Orwell reflects upon the rise of Communism and Fascism in Europe, constructing cautionary
tales of tyrannical regimes. Through the exploration of the themes of the
misuse of technology, the dangers of totalitarianism and hierarchal social
class, responders are given insight into intertextual values of freedom,
conformity and individuality through the perspectives of characters in these
pair of texts.