Thursday, February 18, 2010

until you hear the score

In “Metropolis,” the actors all seem puppets
until you hear the score of Gottfried Huppertz,
performed first in the Friedrichstadtpalast,
and, if you want to understand them, must
be heard again to get to their gestalt.
Without our music, we live in a cult,
and do not understand the moves we’ve made
because we’ve never heard it. We will fade
before our music, waiting for a mu-
sicologist to find it and review
our lives together with what had been missing
while we had silently been reminiscing
unaccompanied by it. We’ll stop
when we can understand our own Metrop-
olis with music like the film of Lang,
and go out with a chorus, not a bang,
believing in a miracle that seemed
to happen, hearing music as we dreamed.

AJ Goldmann writes about a restored version of Fritz Lang’s movie “Metropolis,” long regarded as a cinematic Holy Grail, based on a 16mm negative found in Buenos Aires.
Without a reliable script of Lang’s cut of the movie, the print was verified, in part, by seeing how well it played to the original score by Gottfried Huppertz. “That score is the only complete document from the 1927 premiere,” said conductor Frank Srobel after the dress rehearsal. “The music played a big role right from the beginning because the film’s editing was based on the score itself.”…

“The score gave us information for the gestalt of the film,” added Mr. Koerber, explaining that the music was also the basis for the 2001 reconstruction. But back then, Mr. Strobel complained, he needed to bend and break the music to fit the film. Not any more. “When you put the score beneath the images, everything was clearer and flowed better,” he said….

Iss this the most complete “Metropolis” we will ever see? Or will the remaining lost footage (indicated in the current version by a handful of intertitles that describe the missing action) someday be found? Mr. Junkersdorf replies: “Miracles sometimes happen.”


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