Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis
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Freder Fredersen (Gustav Frohlich) is the son of Joh Fredersen (Alfred Able), who reigns over the great city of Metropolis. Freder is surprised to discover his lifestyle has been built on the unseen but backbreaking labor of an entire class of unseen workers who tend the machines that make the city run--and he descends to the subterranean levels of Metropolis in an effort to understand their lives... and, not incidentally, to find the mysterious but beautiful woman Maria (Brigitta Helm) who has inspired his interest in the workers' plight. But his father is concerned by both Freder's interest and Maria's activities among the workers, and he turns to scientist C.A. Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) for aid. Rotwang has created a robot, and he agrees to give it the likeness of Maria in order to undermine both Freder's love for the girl and her own activities. But Rotwang has a hidden agenda of his own: once the robot has been unleashed, he will use her to destroy Metropolis and thereby exact revenge on Joh Fredersen for past transgressions against him.
In 1981, 3-time Academy Award Winning composer Giorgio Moroder began a three-year endeavor to restore the science fiction classic, Metropolis. During this restoration Moroder made the controversial decision to give a film a new, contemporary score and added a pop music soundtrack featuring songs from some biggest pop and rock stars of the early MTV era including Pat Benatar, Billy Squier, Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler, Adam Ant, Jon Anderson and more! In addition, to the new score, missing footage was re-edited into the film, intertitles were removed and replaced with subtitles and sound effects and color was added, creating an all new experience... and an all new film. For more than a quarter century, this version of the film has remained out of print, until now. A new HD transfer was created from one of the few remaining prints available and Kino Lorber is presenting the film in the best possible quality, as it was seen in its original release in August 1984.
SPECIAL FEATURES: ''The Fading Image'' Produced by Giorgio Moroder, this rare 1984 short subject documentary chronicles Moroder's restoration of Metropolis (never before available on any home video format and not seen in 27 years), The Original Theatrical Trailer, Photo Gallery, and a special liner notes introduction written by Giorgio Moroder in 2011 for this special edition. New 5.1 audio mix (in addition to the original 2.0 stereo mix)
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The first movie scored by the Alloy Orchestra was Metropolis, and for years they performed that score live with showings of the Giorgio Moroder restoration of the film that was released in the 1980s. They also recorded that score on a 2 CD set and it can be synced up with the Moroder version very nicely (start the music when the introductory text first appears in the black box before the Metropolis title appears).
For the US Premiere of the complete version of Metropolis that appears on this Blu ray disc (and DVD), the Alloy Orchestra was asked update and lengthen the score and perform it at the TCM festival in 2010. They did and they have also recorded that score in 24 bit 48 khz high resolution sound; the plan was to include it on the Kino Blu ray, but as you can read in one of the other reviews, that didn't happen. But Alloy Orchestra is selling an mp3 CD of the score (and directions for synchronizing it to the movie) on their website (google them by name). Having seen Metropolis with the recorded original score and also with the Alloy Orchestra performing live, I would say there is no contest. I would never chose to watch it again without the Alloy Orchestra score, but I do plan to show it to friends in my home theatre with the Alloy Orchestra score more than once.
If you choose to order the Alloy Orchestra score, you might want to inquire about getting better quality sound than the mp3 CD. It was recorded in high resolution sound and if there are enough requests, they might be persuaded to release it as a high resolution sound audio DVD, to play along with your Blu ray of the movie on a separate player or from your computer.
Alloy Orchestra has also composed numerous other scores for silent movies and a number of them are available as the soundtrack or as an alternative soundtrack on DVDs of the films. They are all highly recommended
I was very excited at the prospect of a blu-ray release. The quality is much better than my vhs copy ever was of course, but I am a little disappointed with Kino. The movie has not been restored. Lots of scratches, specs, etc. It just doesn't look the way a blu-ray should look. What's the point of blu-ray if the source print isn't restored? I bought my brother a dvd copy of it, and I can't tell the difference between the dvd and blu-ray. Don't get me wrong. Those of us who love this film are thrilled to death, and I pre-odered mine months ago. The Kino release is the best available and the sound qualitiy is superb. I just wish Kino had worked on restoring the print. This is why I gave it four stars instead of five.
Actually I'm grateful for this lack of diddling since it means that Kino didn't diddle with the version that I like.
I also have the much longer, much slower, complete Kino version. I just finished watching the Moroder version and I find that it is a much more watchable film that that other versions (note that there are many versions of Metropolis floatin around, so I won't confuse the issue by discussing more than these two).
Some people may not like the colorization (tinting), but according to the documentary on film restoration (in the Extras section) that tinting process was popular at one point and I find that it does indeed help make the film a little more watchable compared to the stark gray-scale version. Likewise, other folks complain about the 80's music, but I like the music very much and feel that it helps hold the story together versus some generic orchestration.
That, combined with the film's faster run-rate, makes it a more watchable film than the much longer slower versions of Metropolis. I'm sure that Kino will come out with a cleaned-up restored Moroder version in a couple years, and I'll buy that one also.
I believe that Metropolis (specifically this Moroder version) presents a very powerful message. Especially in this day and age when we sit 10 hours per day in front of "the machine" (the one that you are sitting in front of right now).
PS be sure to watch the film restoration documentary in the Extras section.