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March 1995, Week 2


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David Smith <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 11 Mar 1995 10:28:50 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
 Philippe Mather wrote:
>     Gene Stavis' comments regarding Moroder's 1984 version of
>_Metropolis_ are similar to those of David Smith, in the sense
>that they are both basically evaluative (one likes subtitles and
>the other doesn't). The underlying disagreement, however, appears
>to be an ethical one: Smith argues that Lang's film has been
>desecrated, whereas Stavis contends that this adaptation has allowed
>the film to reach a wider audience.
And we are both right (you're right too, Phillipe). Last night I had the
opportunity to view the full video version of Moroder-cum-Lang's
METROPOLIS (recall that my original post of 3/8 was based on 'a
quick preview') and here is my amended assessment (ahem): Lang's
class analysis, if that is the right word, in METROPOLIS basically
deserves Moroder's mawkish rock ballads. They are an embarassment.
As a sometime student of Weimar culture, I can only cite the political
confusion practised by small men like Friedrich Ebert during that dire
era, as a possible mitigating factor in Lang's case (in other words,
criminal stupidity in political thinking was endemic. Still is.). Lang
also evidently suffered a dire cultural confusion of his own, at least
in the making of METROPOLIS. The film reflects then recently bygone
aesthetic concerns, notably the Futurists' mechanolatry, in a mish-
mash of expressionism (the cellar with the crosses is especially
painful to watch) and nickleodeon melodrama. If Lang had only set
out to make a debauched monster feature and dropped his insane
social theories (slaves who rebel only wind-up destroying their own
homes, for one), then I think he would have produced an enduring
classic. I know there are those who will continue to insist that is
exactly what METROPOLIS is (an enduring classic, not a debauched
monster movie).
As for Moroder, I put it to you that labelling him a 'composer' (based
on this score, anyway) is perhaps going too far. Tin Pan Alley tune-
smith, perhaps. Consider this: if Moroder was starting this project
today, he would almost certainly enlist the vocal and instrumental
talents of Guns & Roses to deliver guaranteed box office audiences
to his extended music video (a very insightful metaphor, Phillipe).
That's how seriously we need take him as a composer.
Some of the subtitling was tolerable.
David Smith
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