Tales of the City

on June 16, 2010 by Steve Simels


Well, never let it be said that I don't keep my promises. Specifically, the one where I said I'd get back to you about some Australian lunatic's recreation of the MTV version of a silent movie classic.

I refer, of course, to producer Giorgio Moroder's pioneering for its day (1984) restoration of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), a film which of course has since been restored to it's auteur's original vision. As for the Australian lunatic -- or perhaps I should say the charming Australian pop obsessive (that's him on the right) -- I'll let him speak for himself. Here's a few excerpts from his mission statement.

Hi Metropolis Fan:
I'm Gilchrist and I've produced what I truly believe to be the best version of Giorgio Moroder's Metropolis you will find anywhere. Of course, I would say that as I'm behind this version!
My adventure started I first saw Moroder's Metropolis in the 1980s on TV and, despite the low image and audio quality, I loved it! But I really wanted to see it with high quality restored footage. It was very hard to go back to the muddy, blurry versions I had. So I waited and wondered 'Would they ever release Moroder's version on DVD?
Nope. Still waiting. So] I decided, if no one else was going to do it , I'd just have to do it for myself. So I spent the next 2 years restoring and re-editing the Moroder version using the latest, best quality visuals & audio available. This is virtually an all original reconstruction. I'm a perfectionist, so I didn't stop until I could make Metropolis Redux as good as it could possibly be. I have no life.


In any case, I finally scored a copy of Gilchrist's labor of love, and I have to say it's a knockout, with astonishingly good looking images. It's NOT Fritz Lang's movie, of course; it's Moroder's abridged and re-edited kandy-kolored synth-scored version with all the good and bad that entails. But given that the original in all its restored glory will be available on DVD and Blu-ray this fall, and given that Moroder's version is historically important and would not otherwise be available for comparison, I have nothing but good things to say about Gil's work. His package, by the way, includes a running subtitle commentary in which he explains exactly how and why he restored individual shots and scenes, as well as a restored version of the 80s trailer and Freddie Mercury's "Love Kills" video (which featured scenes from Moroder's cut).

You can learn more about Gilchrist's Metropolis odyssey -- and more to the point, find out how to see his brilliant handiwork -- over at his website; when you do, make sure to tell the crazy SOB I sent you.

Tags: Fritz Lang, Giorgio Moroder, Freddie Mercury

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