Metropolis: a hint of things to come

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by StevenA, Sep 30, 2001.

  1. StevenA

    StevenA Second Unit

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    Just saw the screening of the restored METROPOLIS at Los Angeles County Museum of Art last night (the second night of an astonishing Lang retrospective, first night was SPIES, the almost 3 hour version, with a small orchestra which was also a real treat). Kudos to Robert Israel for his marathon accompaniment on the organ, which was superb.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that when this restoration finally gets to DVD, it's going to be the definitive silent film experience on disc, if last night was anything to go by. I have never seen a film of this era looking so clear and free of blemishes. The cityscapes, the effects, that gorgeous robot: they all look so wonderful it's hard to describe. Plus, the restoration finally gives the film a narrative line which flows logically, and a consistency of continuity cutting, and it is nothing short of a thrilling experience (the few parts that are still sadly missing are explained via title cards).
    The only reservation I have about this restoration (which won't effect a DVD release) was something that the restorer mentioned with some bitterness in his introduction. The decision was made to go digital at some point in the process, using "2K" resolution (I'm sure somebody can give an explanation of what that actually means). His opinion was that 2K was not high enough a level of resolution for a 35mm film. Indeed, there were very slight jaggies evident in a few shots, plus an overall, very subtle "video" look which reduced the brilliance of the images. However, this was being blown up on a large cinema screen, and even then the film did look absolutely stunning.
    Now the impatient wait for the DVD begins...
    [Edited last by StevenA on September 30, 2001 at 02:45 PM]
     
  2. Zack Scott

    Zack Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    can't wait for this to come out on dvd. The 10 dollar verion is such crap.
     
  3. Chuck Blair

    Chuck Blair Agent

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    I'm also waiting for a better version. The current US version is unwatchable, calling it crap is too kind. I also recently picked up the Australian PAL version which is far better than the Madacy version, but still only of marginal quality.
     
  4. Tom-G

    Tom-G Screenwriter

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    I have my hopes up very high that we will get this great movie on DVD. I agree, the $10 version is not very good and this film deserves to be restored. Much like 2001: A Space Odyssey the film's themes hold up today.
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  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I think 2K resolution means that each frame is stored on a computer system...at a 2000 KB size.
    That's a lot of resolution...but I think they should have gone for 2.5K res.
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  6. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    What kind of music score did it have? I have the French DVD, which is from the restoration, and it has a strange, effective orchestral score that sounds period, yet futuristic.
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  7. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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    I'm no expert, but I believe they are referring to resolution, 2k x 2k. I've seen projectors that will now do 4kx2k and 4kx4k.
     
  8. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    I am a very big fan of this film. Back in '80 or '81, Georgio Moroder released theatrically a version of the original film using the current pop artists of the time to write and perform songs for the film, and some tinting was added in certain places. The film as a whole was specially restored for this release. Although they took the original film and made a new soundtrack, I have to say the film was enjoyable and entertaining to watch. This '80's version was later released in laserdisc format as well as VHS. Soon after, both formats of the film went "out of print". Over the years, there have been several versions of the film released on VHS, some with the original score (which is pretty strange IMO) and some without. I would love to see a dvd of this current release, as well as the Moroder version if someone could find it and strike a decent transfer. It's a lot to ask for, but I can dream, can't I?
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    It is questionable whether 2k, used as both in and output
    can replicate the detail and resolution found in highly
    silvered nitrate stocks. When the output is then printed from one generation of film to another, digi also doesn't
    hold up as well as film.
    One would assume that all film elements have been backed up as film and that this can be revisited in the future when technology comes in a bit less expensively.
    In the meantime, the exigencies of digital aside, everything that I'm hearing about the work done on Metorpolis has been A++.
    RAH
    [Edited last by Robert Harris on October 01, 2001 at 09:13 AM]
     
  10. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Sounds like a great release. I've only seen Metropolis once and that was a long time ago so I'm very much looking forward to the dvd...
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    He thought on homeland, the big timber, the air thin and chill all the year long. Tulip poplars so big through the trunk they put you in mind of locomotives set on end. He thought of getting home and building him a cabin on Cold Mountain so high that not a soul but the nighthawks passing across the clouds in autumn could hear his sad cry. Of living a life so quiet he would not need ears. And if Ada would go with him, there might be the hope, so far off in the distance he did not even really see it, that in time his despair might be honed off to a point so fine and thin that it would be nearly the same as vanishing.
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  11. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    I have heard several rumours over the years regarding this release, and at some point I also believe I have heard that a three diosc set would come, one with as close to the original version as is possible to come, one with the Moroder version, and one disc with extras. Have anybody else heard this, or have I just dreamt it up?
    In short, have anybody heard anything concrete about a DVD release?
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  12. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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    I would also like to know about the soundtrack. What was it? New music? Organ? What?
     
  13. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  14. JaredB

    JaredB Agent

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    Just as a side note, regarding 2K resolution: Most modern special effects work (CGI etc.) is done at 2k resolution. That means that frames of film that are scanned in for digital effects (star wars, lord of the rings) are done at 2k.
    But Mr. Harris makes a good point, 2k may not be enough when you figure in heavily silvered nitrate stocks. Obviously, you want as much information as possible, but like digital music sampling the debate centers over how much is overkill. i.e. at what point can the audience not percieve the increased resolution, 2K, 3K, 4K?
    I believe most top of the line laser film scanners for effects work and video color timing are at 2K, but I could be wrong.
    If memory serves, the effects in Jurassic Park were only 1K. (maybe even lower than that? I'll have to check)
    At any rate, back on topic, I can't wait to see a restored version of Metropolis.
     
  15. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    Mr. Harris' comments are cause for concern. There is no greater expert in this department as far as I am concerned.
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  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    While I certainly appreciate Mr. Stevens kind words, there
    are many people who work in the digital domain who have a much greater understanding than I for the details that go into digital work.
    I tend to rely on those experts comments, derive what I can from their knowledge base and then allow my eyes to tell me what the truth is.
    The answers here aren't simple.
    In balancing an artistic and financial basis, one might well consider using different input scanning (read different resolutions) on a shot by shot basis.
    It has been generally shown that one may well be able to get an acceptable representation of an image by inputting at, for example, 4k and outputting at 2k.
    As I've mentioned, one cause for concern is that a digitally derived image does not seem to hold up as well going from generation to generation as the same image derived from a strictly photo-optical source.
    One further point should also be repeated.
    There is nothing wrong with 2k production work for new films. It can intercut quite nicely with production photography. The problem is in any attempt to replicate NON-DIGITALLY produced footage at lower resolutions. While one might achieve a nice low-grain, smooth look, that is the look of low resolution and an inability to hold the picture information.
    As an example, certain shots of Rear Window underwent digital replication and cleanups for a number of different reasons, and as I recall all were performed at 2k. Using a higher resolution would not have added anything.
    However, all of this footage began its life as third or fourth generation elements. Had we been using digital manipulation, working directly from camera original, 2k might not have yielded acceptable results.
    There is a great deal that we still don't know about the literal ins and outs of digital. Its still very much a learning process for many of us with a great degree of trial and error.
    There are no absolutes.
    Hope this is helpful.
     
  17. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    It's great to hear that this film is finally getting the treatment that it deserves and that even better things might lay ahead. I eagerly await a DVD.
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  18. StevenA

    StevenA Second Unit

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    Sorry, I suddenly became very busy and have only now checked back into this thread. Thanks for all the fascinating insights and comments from everybody (including Mr. Harris no less [​IMG] ).
    Re: the soundtrack (which may be also mentioned in that DVDTalk link but I haven't taken a look yet), it was "adapted from" or "based on" the original score, which was, according to Robert Israel, composed for a 70 piece orchestra. It was fairly traditional, but very compelling (perhaps it's different from the one on the French DVD, if indeed that one is "futuristic", although the one I heard on Saturday night did have some interesting sci-fi style scoring during the laboratory scenes).
    [Edited last by StevenA on October 02, 2001 at 12:02 AM]
     
  19. StevenA

    StevenA Second Unit

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    Just had a quick look at the Savant review at DVDTalk (posted by Al Brown above) and it looks like a very comprehensive report.
    I must say however that I didn't interpret the restorationist's comments at the end of his talk as inferring that there was extra footage found recently, but rather that he's still tweaking the brightness level and trying to reduce the grain (hence the "work in progress" comment: he did promise an even better print in about 12 months). I hope the Savant report is correct and that there is some more footage now discovered, but I don't recall hearing that information.
     
  20. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Time for a brief rant:
    I've learned from a well-placed source that the people doing the Munich restoration refused to use other unique materials that were in other hands because they wanted to own the entire thing themselves. In other words, there could have been a significantly MORE complete Metropolis, but the archive through selfishness and pigheadedness would not use the other materials. It wasn't a matter of the other sources claiming extortionate amounts; Munich refused to even discuss the matter. WHY do archives have this attitude of noncooperation? It's as if they refuse to cooperate just out of spite. So we once again get a restoration that is not what it could be, and Lang's vision continues to go unrealized. Maddening!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
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    "This movie has warped my fragile little mind."
     

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