Friday, July 02, 2010

Metropolis (2010 restoration) (live cinema event conducted by Frank Strobel, performed by Orchestra del Teatro Comunale of Bologna)

22.00 Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, 2 July 2010
DE 1927. Ufa. D: Fritz Lang. 149 min
Restauro della versione più completa esistente, promosso dalla Murnau Stiftung e dalla Deutsche Stiftung Kinemathek
Musiche composte da Gottfried Huppertz e dirette da Frank Strobel, eseguite dall'Orchestra del Teatro Comunale
Lingua originale con e-sottotitoli inglese e italiane
35 mm projection.

My most magnificent Metropolis experience ever, and I have seen many different presentations (the MoMA version with Kraftwerk music, the Enno Patalas reconstruction, the Moroder version, a live orchestra performance of the Huppertz music conducted by Berndt Heller, and various interesting music experiences).

Metropolis is a strange film. It is naive and corny, a step backwards in Fritz Lang's artistic growth in many ways, yet it has unique mythological power, and its prophecy, then considered ridiculous, has proven prescient. Germany got its fake "Arbeiterpartei" leader and had its true Moloch experience. Today the division of the world to the privileged minority and the oppressed majority is more terrible than ever. I keep pondering what is the meaning of the fake Maria having become a model for Madonna.

The weak link is Gustav Fröhlich's hysterical acting. Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Fritz Rasp grasp the proper acting style perfectly. Brigitte Helm performs very well in the fantasy mode. Alfred Abel keeps his cool.

I like this reconstruction. It is a labour of love and dedication. The added footage based on the heavily worn 16 mm Buenos Aires print works well. It brings a strange new dimension to the film's own mythology.

The 35 mm projection based on a digital intermediate was fine for Metropolis in the Renaissance surroundings of the Piazza. Metropolis is a film of built space, stone, steel, machines, drawn backgrounds, and wooden acting: Metropolis is immune to digitization.

Frank Strobel's excellent arrangement and conducting of the Huppertz music pays justice to the musical structure of the film (Auftakt, Zwischenspiel, Furioso). The music, composed before the film was edited, now works better than ever since the first run. I look forward to experience this music in a live performance again, and then complete with the giant organs.

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