Metropolis with Alloy Orchestra Silent Film by Footprints
Online ticket sales have ended
Tickets will be available for purchase at the theatre door at 6:30 PM at
940 New Hampshire St (Lawrence Arts Center)
Is proud to present the 1927 classic
with Alloy Orchestra
Sunday, September 20th at 7:30pm
Lawrence Arts Center Theatre
940 New Hampshire St.
Lawrence, KS 66044 Tickets $19+tax
phone: (800) 488-8316 || store: Footprints Mon-Sat 10-6
1339 Massachusetts St, Lawrence KS
Tickets will be held in our retail store until 6pm Saturday September 19th.
After that time tickets will be able to be picked up 1 hour prior to the show at the Theater door.
Alloy Orchestra is a three-man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from the most unlikely sources. An unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable. Using their famous “rack of junk” and electronic synthesizers, the group generates beautiful music in a variety of styles, always in the service to the movie on the screen.
Metropolis will be shown in the Lawrence Art Center Theatre. This intimate setting seats less than 300, so buy your tickets early.
Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film, Metropolis, is considered by most critics and film historians to be one of the most influential films ever made. The visual impact of the film is stunning and long-lasting. It had a form of visual poetry, which set a new standard in film-making. Even if you have never seen Metropolis, you would have seen its influence in films like Star Wars, Blade Runner, the original Frankenstein movies, Dr. Strangelove, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and hundreds of others.
On Sunday, September 20th you will have the opportunity to experience this silent film masterpiece in the best way possible—on the big screen with live musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra. For eight decades this film only existed in a severely truncated form with one-fourth of the film chopped off. Whole storylines had been removed. Thankfully, five years ago, most of the missing pieces of the film were discovered in a Buenos Aires film vault and reunited with this singular work of art. What you will see at the Lawrence Arts Center Theater will be the most complete version of the film since its premiere in 1927 with the original score written and performed by Alloy. You are in for a very special treat.
It is a joy to watch the art of cinema being invented before your eyes. The film industry was still in its adolescence when Metropolis was made. With limited technology, great imagination, and skill, images were created on screen that still wow people today. One of the most compelling scenes is when the robot, Maria, is created. Her metal body is given life by pulsating circular electrical currents vibrating around her body. This was achieved by superimposition—running the same strip of film through the camera multiple times to create a believable image. Spinning silver balls were filmed against black velvet and the motion-blur created the glowing “electric” circles surrounding the robot. Once the various shots were superimposed within the camera along with the robot and the mad scientist’s laboratory, you have a stunning and innovative visual sequence.
On the surface Metropolis is a science fiction film. However, beneath the eye-popping visuals we have a storyline rich in combinations of allegory, fetishization, religious iconography, Oedipal conflict, conflict of tradition versus modernity, labor versus capital, men versus machine and gender conflicts. The film was a reflection of the turbulence of Weimar Germany following World War I. Metropolis is an expression of people’s anxiety about the modern world.
Knowing the historical context of the film is helpful. The world was being transformed by Henry Ford’s assembly line. Centuries of traditional craftsmanship was being displaced. Income inequality was dramatically increasing. A driving force in the transformation was a contemporary book, The Principles of Scientific Management, by Frederick Turner. The book’s thesis was basically the most efficient way to make things was to have a few brains control many hands. The film exaggerates this with workers stumbling around in a stupor. Workers become less human, more machine, cut-off from the decision making process of society. All power in the Metropolis city-state-factory is transferred up to the non-elected elites who are disconnected from work and lead a hedonistic, decadent lifestyle.
Born in Vienna in 1890, Lang was raised in a city rich in architecture, culture and art. He read Jules Verne and American dime-novel westerns. One of his strongest childhood memories was when Buffalo Bill Cody came to Vienna on his European tour. This precocious child dreamed of becoming a painter, but WWI interrupted his plans.
At war’s end, Lang found himself in Berlin where the young film industry was booming. Despite the horrible dislocations of the war and the dreadful economy, everyone was hungry for this new form of entertainment. The most creative and dominant studio in Germany was Ufa, the largest movie studio outside Hollywood. Lang started working for Ufa and eventually became their leading director. The former German Army officer was comfortable being in command.
Ufa had Germany’s best talent. Lang was not a one-man-show. He presided over a wonderful ensemble of cinematographers, set designers and art directors who helped developed his distinctive style. These talented artists had worked with each other before, knew each other’s strengths and abilities and worked as a team with a common goal.
However, Lang was known for treating his actors cruelly. Many actors who became stars after working with Lang would refuse to work with him again. Brigitte Helm, Maria in Metropolis, was pushed to the limit many times. In a scene where she is being burned at the stake, her look of terror is actually real because her clothes really did catch on fire. Many suspected Lang of murdering his first wife after she discovered Lang and Thea von Harbou, the screenwriter for Metropolis, in a compromising position on Lang’s sofa. A murder charge was never proven but contributed to the overall reputation of Lang being a dictatorial director who would stop at nothing to get the perfection he desired.
In a similar dark vein, Lang made cameo appearances in his films similar to Alfred Hitchcock, except with Lang it was a close-up of his hands. He had graceful well-manicured hands which he was quite proud of. So when he needed a close-up of someone being strangled, it was Lang’s hands that you would see.
Although Lang raised Catholic, his mother was Jewish. A fearful Lang fled Germany as the Nazis were consolidating power and later found his way to the safety of Hollywood despite rumors that Hitler and Goebbels loved Lang’s work especially Metropolis and wanted Lang to make films for them. Lang had a long career in Hollywood, but he is best known for his German work, Metropolis especially.
Of course, you can buy the DVD of Metropolis or view the film on Netflix, but there is really something special about sitting in a darkened auditorium surrounded by friends and neighbors and watching the restored film on the big screen with the live music that drives the film to its conclusion. It will be a riveting, heart-thumping experience. We hope to see you there.