The Future of Manufaktura Through the Lens of Metropolis

Yael Vishnizki-Levi (Faculty of “Artes Liberales” of the University of Warsaw)


A contemporary observation on Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic inside Łódź’s biggest shopping leisure and arts complex, located in the former industrial complex founded in the end of the 19th century by Izrael Poznański, a Łódź based businessman. My talk will focus on my upcoming film project Manufaktura, which was shot at the Manufaktura complex in Łódź. The film is a semi-documentary project examining the relationship between the huge complex and its history as a spinning mill and a textile factory. The film draws inspiration from Metropolis, the 1927 classic by Fritz Lang as well as uses parts of its script and its artistic structure as a silent movie. Metropolis, which does not relate to any particular place or time, presents a futuristic observation on the city’s structure and appearance and explores concepts of modernisation, industrialisation and mass production, which all were significant topics and foci in Europe of the interwar period. Our contemporary perspective allows us to examine Metropolis in relation to our times where its spectaculous futuristic, science-fiction elements stay in the past as a nostalgic comprehension of the future. The Manufaktura uses its historical atmosphere and industrial architecture of the old factory as a starting point (which also explains the name of the complex) in order to create a nostalgic quality and a unique appearance which differs the complex from other shopping centres in an era that requires to attract visitors and costumers. The film Manufaktura is a documented journey around the complex, which results in a collection of contemporary representations of machines. In the film the exact time is indicated and the location of the Manufaktura plays a significant role. While the concept of the Manufaktura is being challenged in the digital era, the film allows us to observe this phenomenon before its next transformation. I would like to divide the talk into three parts: (a) In the first part, I will show the beginning and the end of the film Metropolis (1927 dir. Fritz Lang) and rethink its artistic qualities as one of the first futuristic, science-fiction movies and its social and political relevance for the contemporary digital age. (b) In the second part, I will show the beginning of my upcoming film Manufaktura, discuss its artistic concept as a semi-documentary, the editing process and the decision to link between the footage shot inside the Manufaktura and the text quoted from Metropolis. (c) In the third part, I will present an analysis of the relationship between the films (Metropolis and Manufaktura) and the terms future and transformation both as practical concepts and as philosophical, socio-political and utopian terms.