Technology is an embedded aspect of the humans life. It was originally considered as instrument and a set of technics which could be dominated by the mankind. Today modern technology turned itself into something complex and hardly dominated by the human mankind. Indeed modern technological consumers keep considering technology as an instrument, which from a practical point of view is true, but at the same time they are not aware of the real essence of technology.
The movies analyzed in this paper masterfully represent Heidegger’s considerations towards modern technology: Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927), Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson, 1976) and Snowpiercer ( Joon-Ho Bong, 2013). These movies are all set in a dangerous technological context, where people are completely dominated by technology. Heidegger’s concepts of enframing, revealing, danger and saving power are the intrinsic leit motiv of the above cited movies. Contextualized into different historical periods, all these movies share common bases and an happy ending: people manage to see the true essence of technology and free themselves through rebellion.
HEIDEGGER’S FUNDAMENTS ON TECHNOLOGY
Technology itself contains a humanistic and manufacturing side. As a matter of fact it is not just the use of tools and machines, it is also a human activity, hence the two aspects are strictly connected to each other. This is the old Greek concept of Tεκνή (teckné). People’s will to master it is undeniable, the problem rises up when technology slips away from the human control.
The instrumental definition of technology above described, does not reveal the essence of technology to the human beings. Indeed Heidegger considers technology as a mode of revealing, through a “bringing-forth” modality in which the unconcealment takes place and truth happens. Heidegger distinguishes between the pre-modern production and the modern production, considering them as two different bringing-forth modalities.
Pre-modern production reveals itself through a natural “bringing-forth”, strictly tied to “poiesis” and the work of craftsman, relying on nature as standing reserve. Also the modern production reveals itself but its “bringing forth” is challenging and controlling, especially if the standing reserve are human beings. From Heidegger’s point of view it would be improper praising or demonizing modern technology, on the contrary as Ronald Godzinski Jr. points out the potential value of modern technology is unpredictable and dangerous upon its context of use.2
According to the context of use, human beings are not necessarily condemned to be modern technology’s standing reserve. Indeed when modern technology reveals its real essence the people can still release themselves from it, thanks to what Heidegger identifies as “saving power”.
“Enframing” is the real essence of modern technology in Heidegger’s perspective. Enframing is a challenging-forth into ordering, which is a way of revealing, so it would be correct to define Enframing as ordaining of destining. Since human beings are already in a relationship with technology, especially in current times, it is not possible to avoid it or sway it. Besides, in Heidegger’s thinking destining may sway over man but it is not compelling because freedom belongs to the realm of destining as well.
As a matter of fact freedom is not connected to the human will, it is connected to the revealed instead. This means that human beings experience modern technology as Enframing, revealing and destining. Especially destining, if it dominates in the mode of enframing, is particularly dangerous for the human mankind because it may lead people to be taken as standing-reserve or worst to send mankind into ordering. Hence the danger is not the material and physical apparatus of technology but the denied possibility to enter into the original revealing, consequently missing the primal truth of modern technology.
When danger for the human mankind reaches the highest peak the stronger rises up the saving power. Indeed the saving power allow man to see properly and enter into what Heidegger defines the highest dignity of his essence.3 When man live in extreme danger the deepest and unbreakable belongingness rises up and pay heed to the true essence of modern technology.
On the one hand people are not completely saved yet, on the other hand they may still have chance to escape the standing-reserve condition which would deprive the human being of his soul and dignity. Probably human beings might not totally master and control modern technology and everything lies behind it. Doubtless they will always be able to defend themselves and keep their dignity untouched, as long as they can see the true essence of modern technology.
2. CINEMA AND REPRESENTATION OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology has often been a prolific source of inspiration in cinema, through different representations across the time. The movies analyzed in this paper are: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927); Michael Anderson’s Logan’s Run (1976); Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer (2013).
These movies are set and realized in different historical periods. Metropolis is a silent movie which bases its strength on actor’s mimic and visionary imagery of technology. Logan’s Run is a typical Shi-fi movie set in the seventies, so it represents technology according to the time beliefs. Finally Snowpiercer is the most recent and so it reflects technology according to the current times. Given the differences among these three movies, they all share a common base in which technology rules as Enframing system - as ordaining of destining. The people are entrapped into it as standing reserve, but at the end, through their saving power, release themselves.
Snowpiercer is definitely the most catastrophic of them because it exasperates all the negative aspects of the enframing system, in a world where life is almost extinguished. The world becomes the train and people in the tail section are represented as hopeless with no food and terrible living conditions. The sacred engine seems to order the world/train and everyone seems to be subjugated to it at any level, including the highest ones. Metropolis seems to follow a similar line, technologic machines are represented as monstrous eating man machine4 . On the contrary Logan’s Run represents an apparently peaceful technologic world where all seems to be perfect, except the fact that the people need to be “terminated” and “updated” at their thirties. They seem to reborn as serial numbers instead of people.
As Heidegger pointed out, in the extreme danger rises up the saving power. In Snowpiercer and Logan’s Run, Curtis and Logan finally open their eyes when the danger becomes tragically clear. The difference between Curtis and Logan’s rebellion is that in Snowpiercer Curtis is pushed to set a rebellion he first believes in, while Logan only opens his eyes when his chip is counting down his days. In other words he is about to be “terminated”. In Metropolis the rebellion starts much earlier than in the other two movies here analyzed, just after the rich guy explores the shallows of Metropolis and finds out the terrible truth. Therefore rebellion is the medium the enslaved people use to reach their freedom.
As Heidegger previously highlighted, technologic machines are not the danger themselves. For instance in Snowpiercer Curtis is pushed to rebellion also for Wilford’s interest. The reason is the same in Logan’s Run, people are terminated to balance the population. In Snowpiercer this concept becomes extreme because it is based on hierarchy decided from the power elites. Wildford supports Curtis’ idea of rebellion just because in this way people would be killed by themselves, leaving Wilford’s hands clean.
In Logan’s Run the idea of balancing people is put on the scene as entertainment, the Carousel show, but the concept does not change at all. The killer in this case is technology which terminates people when the time comes, as Francis says: “It keeps everything in balance. One is terminated, one is born, simple, logical, perfect. You have a better system?”.5 Also in Metropolis, with some differences, what lies behind technology is the power elites. These movies skillfully support Heidegger’s thesis that Enframing, destining and ordering are the danger, not modern technology meant as merely instrumental.
 Tεκνή-ης (Techné) is the ancient Greek word used to define art, craft, technique and also the fine arts and the arts of mind
 see Godzinski, Ronald Jr. (2005), “(En)Framing Heidegger’s Philosophy of Technology “, Essays in Philosophy: Vol. 6: Iss.1, Article 9, page 4
 see David K. Farrell, “The Question Concerning Technology”, Heidegger, page 337
 see Metropolis at minute 15/seconds 36, the machine turns itself into a monstrous and cannibal eating man mechanical entity
 see Logan’ Run at minute 4/seconds 16. Logan talks with his friend Francis about law, which they consider as perfect at that moment
Farrell K. David, “ The Question Concerning Technoloy” from Martin Heidegger Basic Writings”, San Francisco, Harper, Web.1993
Godzinski, Ronald Jr . "(En)Framing Heidegger’ s Philosophy of Technology ", Essays in Philosophy: Vol. 6: Iss. 1, Article 9, Web.2005
Lin Ma, Brakel V. Jaap, “Heidegger’s Thinking on the Same of Science and Technology”, Continental Philosophy Review, Web. DOI 10.1007/s11007-014-9287-z