February 12, 2010

Reconstructing Metropolis


The Berlin Rundfunk-Symphonic-Orchestra, © Reuters

There are perhaps not many architects, who are unaware of the German movie classic from 1927 METROPOLIS by Fritz Lang. Following the image of the industrious Berlin of the golden twenties and the ongoing expansion of the New York skyline, Fritz Lang created a dystopian city, merging elements of both and projecting it into the future. An immense city, with soaring buildings, connected by sky bridges and trains and plains navigating in between, that has a very dark side. The class society, similarly to Engels in his writing about the industrial poor in Manchester, has enslaved workers in underground factories, while the soaring heights belong to the upper class. An emerging struggle of power is unfolding by a workers' rebellion and a demonic scientist with his instrument a female human machine.
Those who haven't seen this film, will surely recognize many elements, since it's iconic vistas have found there way into many science fiction films in the following decades, one might even argue it defined and even created entire film genre.
The story about the movie is as interesting as the story within the movie. A quarter of the movie was presumed lost since it's premiere on January 10th 1927 in the Ufa-palace at the Zoo. Therefore it was quite a surprise announcement in 2008, that 16mm negatives of the film have been found in Buenos Aires.
The following restoration was able to add 30minutes to the film, which adds up to a total length of 147minutes.
According to martin Koerber of the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek Metropolis still has lacking pieces, but the missing quarter has almost entirely been added.
To celebrate this classic of silent film at the Berlin Film Festival, the Berlinale, Metropolis will be premiered once more at the Friedrichstadtpalast in Berlin and at the same time at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt am Main, accompanied by symphonic orchestras. In Berlin an open air performance was announced to be held at the Brandenburger Tor.
Eberhard Junkersdorf, head of the Murnau-Stiftung which administers the rights of the film, described Metropolis to be great cinema which is as topical as 83 years ago, a brilliant critique of capitalism.
For those who don't happen to be in Frankfurt or Berlin I reccomend to watch tonight 20.15 either ARTE or 3SAT, or see the performance online: Livestream.

Via:
NZZ

Protagonists:
ARTE & 3SAT
Rundfunk Symphonie Orchester
Trailer

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