The Sunday Intertitle: McTropolis
To St Andrews Square in the heart of our fair city for an outdoor screening (part of Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Film in the City event) of METROPOLIS, Giorgio Moroder version. Don’t ask me why they screened this one. I guess they didn’t have a three-hour slot for the restoration, or they thought this version would go down better with the kids, who are into all that Queen and Bonnie Tyler and Adam Ant stuff.
Fiona quite likes this version because it’s how she first saw the film. She defends Moroder slightly — “He wanted to show the film to a new generation.” But that’s Ted Turner’ colorization argument — you get more people to see the thing, but what they’re seeing is NOT the thing. Still, he did put out a version of the film that restored Von Harbou’s plot, which had been moronically rewritten in English-language territories. (The female robot is presented, in that rewrite, as “The worker of the future,” and the city’s ruler has her incite riots for no discernible reason. Complete nonsense, concocted by some Hollywood Pat Hobby who felt the original story was “silly.”) Moroder’s electronic scoring is acceptable, though I think a little disappointing considering how good Moroder was at film composing when he had a living director to collaborate with. The songs are bloody awful. The tinting is overenthusiastic. The synth sound effects just work as score so they don’t upset me. The end titles that credit Fritz Raspe’s character, “the Thin Man,” as “Slim,” are acceptable. It’s a valid translation, with noir resonances just as strong as the more familiar one…
The Moroder version actually begins with a title announcing that much of Lang’s footage has been lost, “probably forever,” delightfully announcing its obsolescence with its opening frame. Kind of poetic: Lang’s movie triumphs over time, time triumphs over Moroder’s edit. I give Moroder enough credit to believe he’s delighted to be proved wrong on this occasion, so everyone’s a winner.
Fiona enjoyed the show, I mainly read Raoul Walsh’s autobio, the clouds threatened rain but held off until later, and there was applause when evil Maria’s eyes opened, and when the film ended. So, even under rather odd conditions, Lang’s film still impresses.
Buy the right version (UK): Metropolis [Reconstructed & Restored] (Masters of Cinema) [DVD]