Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Metrolopis


Sorry about the mis-spelling. We have a cafe (actually, they call it a caffe) called Metropolis in my town, which a friend of mine insists on calling Metrolopis. It's stuck now.

I first watched this movie a long time ago. I can't remember exactly when it was, but I would definitely have been less than 11, possibly more like eight or so. I remember absolutely loving it at the time. I was also watching a lot of Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy about that time. I'm not sure why there was such a focus on these things - this was well before the video era, it must've just been what they had on after school (or on a Saturday morning) in England. Come to think of it, they should put those things on after school now, instead of PokeDigiMegagodIsoundlikeaparent.

Meandering back to the original point, I remember loving Metrolopis then. This time it wasn't so good. This may well be due to it being a "restored-exactly-as-Fritz-Lang-intended-even-down-to-referring-to-missing-footage" edit. I don't remember it being anywhere near this long - surely my attention-span at that age wouldn't have withstood it?

My 31-year-old attention span certainly didn't - I had to watch it in two goes! The second half seemed a lot better, more like what I remember.

The score is apparently also the original (presumably played live at each screening?) by Gottfried Huppertz. It is overblown and horrible, an absolute cliche of silent film. While this does make it seem more authentic, I had to turn it down so it didn't detract from the film so much.

This place talks about the Giorgio Moroder soundtrack from 1984, often misreported as a Queen soundtrack. It may well be this version of the film I've seen. I certainly remember the video for Radio Ga-ga, and recognising the bits they'd nicked from the movie.

Back once again to what I was talking about - while the film didn't grab me as such a brilliant, depressing vision of the future this time, I still love it.

It has such a wide-ranging influence, noticeable in everything from Blade Runner's bleak vision of the future, to the weird machinery of Brazil, to the architecture of the third reich.

The main plot (the heart is the mediator between the hand and the brain) is one of those old classics that are eternal and timeless.

The sheer scale of some of the scenes is astounding, too. There appear to be thousands of extras quite a lot of the time, and although some sets are obviously miniatures, others appear not to be. No wonder it cost so much to make!

Overall then, a great film. The flaws are overridden by its technical magnificence and historical significance.

On a slightly different note, this is the first silent film I've seen in a long time - boy, people really knew how to act back then, particularly with their hands. I've never seen so much actual clutching of breast (outside of "art" films anyway)!

3 comments:

noalias said...

That's and interesting movie. And a better blog.

Slag said...

Thanks man, always good to get comments from non-family members!

afraid said...

I saw it on the big screen in 2003 (this restored version) and my thoughts were/are pretty much the same as yours. I wasn't expecting such melodrama, nor such an irritating score, but I couldn't help but admire the scale of it all and its massive influence.

You should read up about Fritz Lang if you haven't already, he's one of these guys who fled the Nazi state for America. I've seen one other film of his - M - and that was quite excellent, better than Metropolis.