Buenos Aires, 2008– A priceless treasure is discovered in a forgotten corner: A complete 16mm version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the most important masterpiece of the German Expressionism movement and the most expensive silent film ever made.
Montreal, July 28, 2010. A newly restored digital copy of the complete Metropolis has its Eastern Canadian premiere as a special gala of the Fantasia film festival in the 3000-seat Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des arts, featuring a new score by Gabriel Thibaudeau of the Cinematheque Quebecoise, performed by a 13-piece orchestra.
Buzz caught up with Thibaudeau after his last rehearsal with the orchestra at the Conservatoire de Montreal. The composer was a tightly wound ball of nerves, nervous for the premiere today of his game-changing, historic new soundtrack to one of his favourite films. “There exists already a score for the film, it’s really dated music from 1927. It is very operatic—like Wagner or something. But i wanted a much more contemporary approach instead of big swells, there’s more special effects mixed in with the music. I’ve been with the Cinemathèque working with silent films for 20 years, and Metropolis was one of the first films I played on, and I’ve played it many times,” says the composer, who took half a year to compose the new score for the restored version. “Except that I think it was a revelation to see the new version because suddenly, there are some explanations about what Lang meant, some insights into what is really going on in the film.” Thibeaudeau continues that his score is composed of musical fugues that “sometimes not really melodies, just one piece of a tune repeated, building on itself, rather than swelling, symphonic sound. It’s really closer to what we hear these days in the cinema. Especially because Metropolis is a science fiction film, people will think of it differently with this soundrack, they’ll think of it as contemporary…I really want people to feel like this is a film that was shot three weeks ago. These images are less time-stamped than the music. You can really feel the datedness of the film, and the new score freshens it.” His rebuffal to purists who would object to the new score and digital copy: “It’s like saying that you can only enjoy the Mona Lisa by candlelight. Even if it’s a digital copy, the copy is wonderful. And since it will be on a very huge screen, you’ll feel all the mass of the crowd, and the majesty of the images. It will be quite something. ”
July 28th, 7:30 PM, Salle Wilfrid Pelletier
Info here: www.fantasiafestival.com
Guest blogger: Melora Koepke