Monday, May 26, 2014

Coming up: Two screenings of 'Metropolis,'
in Maine on 6/5 and in N.H. on 6/12

It's back to the future with two screenings of the great sci-fi fantasy 'Metropolis' (1927) coming up in the next couple of weeks.

One is on Thursday, June 5 at 8 p.m. at the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, Maine. The other is on Thursday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center in Plymouth, N.H.

If you've never seen this film in a theater with live music and with an audience, then you've got at least two chances in June.

In terms of the music, because 'Metropolis' has a sci-fi vibe to it, I allow myself to go a little wild. By that, I mean augment the traditional orchestra sound I usually use with some special effects the synthesizer can do.

I'll post more on this as we get closer to the showdate. For now, here's the press release from the Leavitt Theatre screening (which comes first) to give you more info. Hope to see you there!

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Mad scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) introduces his "Machine Man" to industrialist Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel).

For more info, contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Leavitt Theatre to screen restored 'Metropolis' on Thursday, June 5

Landmark early sci-fi fantasy movie, with half-hour of rediscovered footage, to be shown with live music

OGUNQUIT, Maine—A silent film hailed as the grandfather of all science fiction fantasy movies will be screened with live music on Thursday, June 5 at 8 p.m at the Leavitt Theatre in downtown Ogunquit. Admission is $10 per person.

The screening is opening night of the Leavitt Theatre's summer-long silent film series, which aims to show the best of early cinema the way it was intended to be seen: on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.

Music for 'Metropolis' will be performed live by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer and one of the nation's leading silent film accompanists.

'Metropolis' (1927), regarded as German director Fritz Lang's masterpiece, is set in a futuristic city where a privileged elite pursue lives of leisure while the masses toil on vast machines and live deep underground.

The film, with its visions of futuristic factories and flying cars, set new standards for visual design and inspired generations of dystopian fantasies from Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' to Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil.'

The story centers on an upper class young man who falls in love with a woman who works with the poor, and encompasses mad scientists, human-like robots, underground spiritual movements, and industrial espionage, all set in a society divided between haves and have-nots.

The version of 'Metropolis' to be screened at the Leavitt Theatre is a newly restored edition that includes nearly a half-hour of missing footage cut following the film's premiere in 1927. The footage, discovered in 2008 in an archive in Argentina, has since been added to the existing 'Metropolis,' allowing plot threads and characters to be developed more fully.

When first screened in Berlin, Germany on Jan. 10, 1927, the sci-fi epic ran an estimated 153 minutes. After its premiere, the film's distributors (including Paramount in the U.S.) drastically shortened 'Metropolis' to maximize the film's commercial potential. By the time it debuted in the U.S. later that year, the film ran about 90 minutes.

Even in its shortened form, 'Metropolis' became a cornerstone of science fiction cinema. Due to its enduring popularity, the film has undergone numerous restorations in the intervening decades in attempts to recover Lang's original vision.

In 1984, the film was reissued with additional footage, color tints, and a pop rock score (but with many of its intertitles removed) by music producer Giorgio Moroder. A more archival restoration was completed in 1987, under the direction of Enno Patalas of the Munich Film Archive, in which missing scenes were represented with title cards and still photographs. More recently, a 2001 restoration combined footage from four archives and ran at a triumphant 124 minutes.

It was widely believed that this would be the most complete version of Lang's film that contemporary audiences could ever hope to see. But, in the summer of 2008, the curator of the Buenos Aires Museo del Cine discovered a 16mm dupe negative of 'Metropolis' that was considerably longer than any existing print.

It included not merely a few additional snippets, but 25 minutes of "lost" footage, about a fifth of the film, that had not been seen since its Berlin debut.

Freder Fredersen (Gustav Fröhlich) gets a taste of working life in 'Metropolis.'

The discovery of such a significant amount of material called for yet another restoration, a 2½-hour version that debuted in 2010 to widespread acclaim. It's this fully restored edition that will be screened at the Leavitt.

"We felt opening night for the Leavitt's silent film series was a great occasion to screen the restored 'Metropolis,' as it's a film all about the future and things to come," said Jeff Rapsis, who provides live musical accompaniment to silent film screenings throughout New England.

" 'Metropolis' stands as an stunning example of the power of silent film to tell a compelling story without words, and reach across the generations to touch movie-goers from the real future that came to pass, which means us."

To accompany a silent film, Rapsis uses a digital synthesizer to recreate the texture of the full orchestra. The score is created live in real time as the movie is screened. Rather than focus exclusively on authentic music of the period, Rapsis creates new music for silent films that draws from movie scoring techniques that today's audiences expect from the cinema.

The restored 'Metropolis' will be shown on Thursday, June 5 at 8 p.m. at the Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St., Ogunquit. Admission is $10 per person. For more information, call (207) 646-3123 or visit For more information on the music, visit


“'Metropolis' does what many great films do, creating a time, place and characters so striking that they become part of our arsenal of images for imagining the world.”
—Roger Ebert, 2010, The Chicago Sun-Times

“If it comes anywhere near your town, go see it and thank the movie Gods that it even exists. There’s no star rating high enough.”
—Brian Tallerico,

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