Devouring Metropolis

Maria and Rotwang

Sometimes I’m really glad I have a blog where I can ramble about with my thoughts until I can hammer them into some kind of sense.  It’s up to you, dear reader, to decide if you want to bother with me when I get like this, but hopefully you’ll get something out of it.

I feel like I’m only just now catching up on one of my long time favorites.  Last month I finally got my fanboy paws on the restored, (nearly) complete version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.  There was so much in it that I’d never seen that it was like watching it for the first time.  Characters were restored that were previously missing, whole subplots were returned to the story… it was astounding to see it come to life in a way that hasn’t been since it was first released 90 years ago.  It made me wonder, after all these years of watching lesser edits of the film, why I had not picked up the novel.  It’s not like I was unaware of it.  It says right there in the film’s opening credits that it’s based on the novel by Thea von Harbou.  I’ve always been enamored with this film, and with silent movies in general.  But seeing the restored version of Metropolis has ignited some kind of obsession recently.  So I tracked down both the original novel, which I finally finished and reviewed last night, as well as a full cast radio production performed by Third Ear Radio Theater, which I also reviewed.  Between the novel, the film, and the radio play, it’s like each of these three media offer something to the greater zeitgeist of Metropolis.  And then just for good measure, I picked up the original Gottfried Huppertz score, newly re-recorded and conducted by Frank Strobel, which was an integral component for figuring out how to reassemble the butchered film.

Metropolis blu-ray

Typically when I work on one of my themed project blogs, I laser-focus on one form of the story only.  For example, with Project: Monster, if I work up Dracula, I hit the Stoker novel or any of the film versions as separate entities.  It serves to keep the incarnations separate so that I can compare and contrast behind the scenes.  I don’t feel like I’m able to do that with Metropolis for whatever reason, which is why I reviewed the novel and radio play separately, but not as project blogs.  When I’m ready to write on the film, it’ll be to put all of this into perspective because it feels like that’s what needs to happen.  But if I’m being honest, it bugs me.  Perhaps it would be better to say it haunts me.  Something about the entire milieu has pulled me in like few things ever have… which is really saying a lot considering how easily I get obsessed about certain stories.  I understand that finally seeing the restored film lends a greater perspective, and perhaps it’s also letting the history behind it all marinate over the course of a lifetime… well, maybe something finally just clicked into place.

Or something snapped.  Both are probably valid.

At any rate, if I do this properly, the finished post for Metropolis may be far too long for a single blog.  Maybe two or three parts would be better.  I’ll let the chips fall where they may on that front.  All I know is that at this point I feel like there’s a demon to exorcize.  That ever happen to you?  Happens to me all the time, but never quite to this level.  This one seems… different.

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