Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Coming up next: sci-fi epic 'Metropolis' on Saturday, Jan. 7 at Keene's Colonial Theatre

Let's hear it for the Precision Driving School of Greenfield, Mass. for sponsoring a local theater's silent film series!

What better way to follow a screening of 'Metropolis' than with...another screening of 'Metropolis'?

That's what'll happen this weekend, when Fritz Lang's ground-breaking sci-fi epic hits the big screen yet again: this time on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre in Keene, N.H.

Lots more detail about this screening is in the press release below.

This will actually be the fourth 'Metropolis' screening I've accompanied in the past three weeks. That's a lot of futuristic fantasy!

The four screenings were booked separately by programmers at different venues, which I take as a sign of the film's enduring popularity. Anywhere you go, it seems people still buy tickets and show up for 'Metropolis.'

So if you're in the Monadnock area of southwestern N.H. this Saturday, please drop on by and experience one of the great achievements of the silent era as it was intended to be seen: on the big screen, with a restored print, with live music, and with an audience!

I usually describe a screening as a "rare chance" to experience early cinema as it was intended. But in the case of 'Metropolis,' I can't really say it's rare, having done music for it so often.

Plus, if you can't make it to Keene this weekend, I'm doing 'Metropolis' again in April at the Rex Theatre in Manchester, N.H. Stay tuned on that one...

*  *  *

From 'Metropolis': A star is born...sort of.

For more info, contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

Restored classic sci-fi epic 'Metropolis' to screen in Keene on Saturday, Jan. 7

Ring in the New Year with landmark early futuristic fantasy shown with live music at Colonial Theatre

KEENE, N.H.—A silent film hailed as the grandfather of all science fiction fantasy movies will be screened with live music in Keene next month.

'Metropolis' (1927), an epic adventure set in a futuristic world, will be shown on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, 95 Main St., Keene, N.H.

The screening will feature live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent films.

Admission is $10.50 adults, $8.50 youth. Tickets are available online at http://thecolonial.org or at the door.

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

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

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

In reviving 'Metropolis,' the Colonial aims to show silent movies as they were meant to be seen—in high quality prints, on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.

"All those elements are important parts of the silent film experience," said Rapsis, who will improvise an original live score for 'Metropolis' on the spot. "Recreate those conditions, and the classics of early cinema leap back to life."

The version of 'Metropolis' to be screened at Colonial is a newly restored edition that includes nearly a half-hour of missing footage cut following the film's premiere in 1927.

The lost 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 was only about 90 minutes long.

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.

From Metropolis': note the sign in the bottom right corner. It doesn't seem to represent anything real in any language I recognize. But it IS an anagram for both 'A Mouth' and 'Uh, Atom.'

The restoration work has continued in recent years. In 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.

The discovery led to a 2½-hour version that debuted in 2010 to widespread acclaim. This fully restored edition will be screened at the Colonial.

" '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, which means us," said accompanist Jeff Rapsis, who provides live music for silent film screenings throughout New England and beyond.

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.

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 Saturday, Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, 95 Main St., Keene, N.H. Admission is $10.50 for adults; $8.50 for youth. Tickets are available online at http://thecolonial.org or at the door. For more information, call the box office at (603) 352-2033.


“'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, Movieretriever.com

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