Monday, September 6, 2010

The 'new' Metropolis at the National Concert Hall

Dublin got its first chance to see the newly restored, almost complete Metropolis on Saturday night at a fantastic live performance at the National Concert Hall.

Metropolis is one of the those films that even if you haven't seen it, you know it! Its imagery is so iconic that it has defined our aesthetic of 'the future' and is instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever seen a science fiction film or car advert! Seeing it again on Saturday night with the extra 25 minutes of restored footage was a reminder of why it was so central to 20th century culture and why its influence can still be seen. It really is extraordinary, and although silent (and now very long) it kept the 1000 strong audience at the National Concert Hall engrossed and captivated for the full two and a half hours.

You can clearly see the newly restored scenes as they were taken from a badly damaged 16mm print and there is a noticeable change in quality and size. This doesn't affect the narrative and it is fascinating to be able to recognise the 'new' bits and track the restoration. Most memorable for me were the new scenes of the children fleeing the underground city which are extraordinarily prescient of events in Europe in the two decades following this film and the much more extensive presence of the menancing (and slightly camp) 'Thin Man'. Although still fantasically crazy, the narrative is definitely more coherent and the extra detail helps make sense of some of the rapid plot twists.

Two and a half hours of live orchestral accompaniment is a tough ask for musicians and they did an incrediable job under the guidance of conductor Helmut Imig. Earlier this year Helmut conducted one of the first performances of the newly restored versions in Germany and his involvement ensured we heard Huppertz's great score at its best. The Goethe Institut supported Helmut's trip to Dublin and I would like to thank them for this invaluable contribution to the event. The IFI hasn't collaborated with the National Concert Hall for a while but it was great to work with them again and we are already planning some more projects for the future.

For those of you who missed Saturday night don't miss Metropolis when it opens this Friday. With robot women, sexual obsession, revolution and romance there is something for everyone and absolutely lives up to its reputation as one of the best films ever made. And don't forget that September is the month of Metropolis at the IFI and we have two accompanying seasons; one celebrating the earlier work of its director Fritz Lang and the other presenting classic science fiction films that have been influenced by this great classic.

To book tickets for Metropolis at the IFI, click here.

Sarah Glennie

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