Monday, January 2, 2023

First in line for 2023: 'Metropolis' on Monday, Jan. 2 at Greenfield (Mass.) Garden Cinema

A scene from 'Metropolis' (1927).

We start out 2023 by breaking new ground!

Tonight I'm doing live music for 'Metropolis' (1927), and it's the first time in my experience that Fritz Lang's futuristic fantasy will be sponsored by a driving school.

Yes, the Garden Cinema of Greenfield, Mass. will screen 'Metropolis' tonight at 6:30 p.m., and along for the ride will be the Precision Driving School.

And that's not all. The driving school has generously agreed to underwrite a three-film series of silents at the Garden. Alfred Hitchcock's early thriller 'The Lodger' (1927) will screen in February, and then it's the WWI aerial epic 'Wings' (1927) in March.

So a tip of the cap to the folks at the Precision Driving School (Your Driver's License is Just a Click Away!) for doing their part to help a local downtown cinema run unusual and distinctive programming—the kind that can't easily be duplicated at home.

And while we're at it, three cheers to the Greenfield Garden Cinemas, where they've been bringing the magic of the movies to Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley since 1929. It's great that Garden willing to find room in their programming for silent classics with live music, which I'm honored to provide. (And which keeps me off the street.)

So if you're within hailing distance of Greenfield, Mass., then get thee down to the Garden for tonight's screening of 'Metropolis.' And if you don't know how to drive, call our good friends at the Precision Driving School (1-413-773-8600) and they'll set you right up. 

Details and more info in the press release below:

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An original promotional poster for 'Metropolis' (1927).

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

Restored classic sci-fi epic 'Metropolis' to screen in Greenfield on Monday, Jan. 2

Ring in the New Year with landmark early futuristic fantasy shown with live music at Garden Cinema

GREENFIELD, Mass.—A silent film hailed as the grandfather of all science fiction fantasy movies will be screened with live music in Greenfield next month.

'Metropolis' (1927), an epic adventure set in a futuristic world, will be shown on Monday, Jan. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenfield Garden Cinema, 361 Main St., Greenfield.

The screening, which honors "National Science Fiction Day," 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 for children, seniors, and veterans. Tickets are available online or at the door. The screening is sponsored by Precision Driving School of Greenfield.

'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.' (Notice the similarities in poster design.)

In reviving 'Metropolis' and other great films of cinema's early years, the Garden Cinema 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' during the screening. "Recreate those conditions, and the classics of early cinema leap back to life."

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.

The version of 'Metropolis' to be screened at Greenfield Garden Cinema 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.

Futuristic gesturing on display in 'Metropolis' (1927).

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.

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. It's this fully restored edition that will be screened at the Greenfield Garden Cinema.

" '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.

Silent film will return to the Garden on Monday, Feb. 6 with a screening 'The Lodger' (1927), an early effort from director Alfred Hitchcock; and then on Monday, March 6 with 'Wings' (1927), a sweeping drama of U.S. aviators in World War I that won of Best Picture at the very first Academy Awards.

All films will feature live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis.

The Garden Cinema's silent film series is sponsored by Precision Driving School, 91 Main St., Greenfield, Mass.

The restored 'Metropolis' will be shown on Monday, Jan. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenfield Garden Cinema, 361 Main St., Greenfield, Mass. Admission is $10.50 for adults; $8.50 for children, seniors, and veterans. Tickets are available online at or at the door. For more information, call the box office at (413) 774-4881.


“'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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