Live musical accompaniment by the world renowned
A mad masterpiece that can only be truly appreciated on a big screen.Leonard Maltin, 2010, Indiewire
Of all of cinema's master works, few have endured as tumultuous and rich a history as Fritz Lang's Metropolis from 1927; some 30 of its debut 153 minutes were thought forever lost, but now, thanks to two prints recently discovered in disparate film archives, only eight minutes remain unaccounted for. In virtually its original state, the prominent release of a digitally restored version earlier this year seems all but fated given how neatly it coincides with the Alloy Orchestra's own 20th anniversary—Metropolis being one of their longest-running and self-proclaimed "best loved" live accompaniments. And the revamping of their score to suit the freshly discovered footage has thus far received no less acclaim than Lang's own spectacular and oft-celebrated film.
Born in Vienna, Austria as Friedrich Christian Lang (1890–1976), his directorial career spans a staggering number of genres, and undertakes both social criticism and popular entertainment alike—each instance steeped in his unique approach of resolute yet enchanting filmmaking. Ever the character, his intriguing bio bridges everything from monocles to S&M to fleeing Nazism to rumours of having murdered his first wife! More relevantly, he was a notoriously dictatorial presence on the film set; as such, many of his films—Metropolis and his equally noteworthy film noir M (1931), for example—deal with an individual being stifled by a collective authority (and this effectively traces another of his thematic tenets: a compassion for criminals). Despite his darker tendencies, however, Lang stands today alongside the likes of cinematic great Alfred Hitchcock (his contemporary in most every way, in fact) since both are similarly able to skillfully charm audiences with their engaging, subtly intricate films.
Lang is a mix of artist and pulp storyteller, pessimist and entertainer. As much as any other film director he found how to fuse high and low culture in the new medium of the cinema.Rob White, 2000, BFI
In the city of Metropolis, life is separated into two distinct groups: the cerebral managers who inhabit the city's towering network of skyscrapers; and the able-bodied workers who dwell underground performing robotic tasks in order to subsist their social/literal superiors. Ultimately, some form of 'heart' must be found to mediate between these 'heads' and 'hands.'
Set in a futuristic landscape so novel and inventive it practically prescribed what later sci-fi would look like, Lang's vision of this prospective world is as stunningly imaginative as it is visually compelling. (What's more, all of effects-expert Eugene Schüfftan's tricks—and there are many fascinating examples to behold—are done without anywhere near the equipment of modern visual effects artists—not even an optical printer!) The epic nature and sheer spectacle of Metropolis are still the film's most endearing features, but the restoration has nonetheless added various segments that aid in smoothing transitions, developing motivations, and expanding secondary characters.
A masterpiece of art direction, the movie has influenced our vision of the future ever since.Mick LaSalle, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle
That Metropolis has been considered a classic without truly having been seen says much about the power of its images. Now fully revealed, it is all the more amazing.Tom Long, 2010, Detroit News
Praise for the Alloy Orchestra is in no short supply; indeed, it's difficult to find a mention of their work that isn't teeming with superlatives and awe-struck affection. Technically, they are a three-man musical ensemble from Cambridge, Massachusetts; the sound of their pieces, however, is more often compared to that of a full-fledged orchestra:
An unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the Orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable. Utilizing their famous "rack of junk" and electronic synthesizers, the group generates beautiful music in a spectacular variety of styles. They can conjure up a French symphony or a simple German bar band of the 20's. The group can make the audience think it is being attacked by tigers, contacted by radio signals from Mars or swept up in the Russian Revolution.Alloy Orchestra Website
There's only three of them, but with keyboard, accordion and clarinet, and an array of various percussion instruments they created a wonderful, clamorous score with pulsating tom-tom rhythms building the climax to a pitch of intensity that was almost physical. The cumulative effect surpassed expectations: a joyful, thrilling evening, and a truly triumphant restoration.Tom von Logue Newth, 2010, ScreenCrave
If more silent movies had received a live accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra, those new-fangled talkies might never have taken off.Bruce Stirling, The Dominion