Thursday, 7 October 2010

Metropolis 1927

Lang was born in Vienna, Austria in 1890 and died in Los Angeles, USA in 1976. His life spanned service in World War I, spectacular fame in Germany in the 1920s, escape from the Nazis, and a period of emigre reinvention in Hollywood. He produced a series of classic films (from Metropolis, M, and Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse [The Testament of Dr. Mabuse] to Fury, The Big Heat, and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt). Lang is widely recognized as one of the most important of all cinema directors.
video
One of the biggest film events of the century, a “Holy Grail” among film finds, Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi epic can finally be seen – for the first time in 83 years – as the director originally intended and as seen by German cinema-goers in 1927.
Shortly after that 1927 release, an entire quarter of Lang’s original version was cut by Paramount for the US release, and by Ufa in Germany, an act of butchery very much against the director’s wishes. The excised footage was believed lost, irretrievably so – that is, until one of the most remarkable finds in all of cinema history, as several dusty reels were discovered in a small museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2008.
Since then, an expert team of highly respected film archivists has been working at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in Germany to painstakingly reconstruct and restore Lang’s film. The results, as premiered at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival in February 2010, are spectacular.
Late in his life, Lang responded to a question on Metropolis by asking his own question, “Why are you so interested in a picture which no longer exists?” Finally, reconstructed and restored, the director’s film “exists” once more.

About the RestorationKey events in the film’s history1927
On January 10, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis premieres in Berlin in a 4189-metre version approved by the director. For the film’s 3100-metre USA release, on March 7, Paramount take the butcher’s knife to the original and remove a quarter, rewriting the film’s intertitles, and changing the characters’ names. Following Paramount’s lead, Ufa withdraws Metropolis and on August 26 re-releases it in a 3241-metre cut shorn of nearly a quarter of Lang’s original. Excised footage would remain lost to the world for more than 80 years.
1969
Using materials from the Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR, a first attempt is made at restoring Metropolis, but after three years the results are limited.
1984
Giorgio Moroder releases a colourised version of the film featuring a new soundtrack that includes Bonnie Tyler, Pat Benatar, Freddie Mercury, Adam Ant, etc. Seen as sacrilegious by many and a camp, cult reworking by others.
1987
At the Deutsche Kinemathek in Munich, Germany, restoration efforts are made, but the film remains significantly shorter than the original release.
2001
A digital restoration of available materials is unveiled via the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in Germany.
2005
A “study version” of Lang’s film is prepared, with notes where footage remains missing.
2008
A spectacular find at the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where a dusty 16mm dupe negative with nearly 25 minutes of previously missing footage is discovered.
2010
An extended restoration, featuring the materials found in 2008, returns a cinema classic to virtually its original version – the “director’s cut” – immaculately reconstructed and restored.

Global press reaction to the world premiere at the 60th Berlinale, February 2010
“the can’t-miss highlight of this year’s programme”
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“throw away your Metropolis DVD!”
***** 5 STARS – THE INDEPENDENT
“the definitive restoration of Fritz Lang’s futurist classic”
THE NEW YORK TIMES
“the restored version gives more depth and new meaning to the cult movie”
THE GUARDIAN
“83 years after its Berlin premiere, Metropolis can finally be seen as Lang originally intended it”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Lang’s bizarre sci-fi dystopian fairytale now looks bigger, madder, absurder and more fascinating than ever...”
GUARDIAN.CO.UK
ReviewsPress reaction to the UK & Ireland theatrical release“a treat – it’s simply one of the greatest and most influential films ever made”
NEWSNIGHT (BBC2), Aug 26
“a cinematic miracle...just how Lang envisioned it”
DAZED & CONFUSED, Sep issue
“one more treasure brought up from Atlantis – all praise to the divers and archaeologists”
THE GUARDIAN, Sep 4
“in its new, old form, an unforgettable film”
***** 5 STARS THE IRISH TIMES, Sep 4
“a mammoth marvel...sit close to a big screen and submit to the machine”
***** 5 STARS TIME OUT (London), Sep 9
“the starting point of so much modern cinema”
***** 5 STARS THE INDEPENDENT, Sep 10
“one of the biggest, strangest, maddest films in cinema history”
***** 5 STARS THE GUARDIAN, Sep 10
“an eternal masterpiece”
***** 5 STARS THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, Sep 10
“the finished restoration is a thing of beauty”
***** 5 STARS IRISH INDEPENDENT, Sep 10
“revolutionary, astounding and madly influential...a big-screen must-see”
THE IRISH TIMES, Sep 10
“a true masterpiece of early cinema”
THE INDEPENDENT, Sep 11
“the grandaddy of sci-fi movies”
THE GUARDIAN, Sep 11
“what would I give it out of 10? I don't believe you can put a number on art”
JANELLE MONAE for NME, Sep 11

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Birth of Horror FRANKENSTEIN 1910

I thought it appropriate to start this site with a celebration of Thomas Edison's landmark film 'Frankenstein'. Made in 1910, it is recognised by some as the birth of Horror, especially on the silver screen. Originally the film was thought to be lost, but thankfully it surfaced in time to celebrate its 100th birthday this year. Now in the public domain, it can be viewed and appreciated by all. I do have a history of this film written which I will post soon. In the meantime, enjoy this historic gem.



Below: The Edison Kinetogram Vol. 1 No. 1 from London, dated April 15th 1910

Below: The Opening film plate


Above and below: Charles Ogle as the creature

Below: The man behind the make up (which was his own) actor Charles Ogle (June 5, 1865 – October 11, 1940)