Organist Peter Richard Conte Performs Thrilling Soundtrack to Restored 1927 Futuristic Film “Metropolis"
Experience a cinematic tour de force when Pacific Symphony showcases the newly restored version of Fritz Lang’s fascinating, iconic, sci-fi masterpiece, “Metropolis,” the 1927 silent film that influenced such mega-hit films as “Star Wars” and “Blade Runner.” Projected on the big screen as organ virtuoso Peter Richard Conte performs the unforgettable soundtrack live, this promises to be a highly unique symphonic afternoon at the movies. High on every list of the most important movies ever made, “Metropolis” is a fusion of elements that are both of its era and shockingly contemporary. The acting is expressionistic, the story is allegorical in its messages about class inequality and the power of love, and the music played an unusually important role for its time.
Thanks to the power of its story and stunning scenic design, this classic film remains timeless. Featuring the one-of-kind William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, performed by Conte, who celebrates his 25th year as Wanamaker Grand Court Organist (Philadelphia), “Metropolis” takes place Sunday, March 12, at 3 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $10-$50. For more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or CLICK HERE.
Lang created one of the most unforgettable original places in cinema, “Metropolis,” which set the image of a futuristic city as a hell of material progress and human despair for countless films to follow. Movies have continued to draw directly upon the classic film when they challenge the audience with realistically human androids, as in “I, Robot,” “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall,” or when they present a futuristic dystopia where underprivileged masses are oppressed by a privileged ruling class—as in “The Hunger Games,” “Soylent Green” or “Gattaca.” From this film, in various ways, descended also “The Fifth Element,” “Alphaville,” “Escape from L.A.” and Batman’s Gotham City.
The laboratory of its evil genius Rotwang created the visual image of mad scientists for decades to come, beginning with the 1935 movie, “Bride of Frankenstein.” The device of the “false Maria,” the robot who looks like a human being, inspired the Replicants in “Blade Runner.” Even Rotwang’s artificial hand was given homage in “Dr. Strangelove.” All of the questions that grip the audience in these films were first posed in “Metropolis,” delivered in a spectacular vision of the future that’s never been surpassed.
Existing in a variety of different versions and lengths after its original release, “Metropolis” included a score that was given special attention by Lang, who regarded the music as crucial, and he commissioned an original score by Gottfried Huppertz. Back then, musicians usually gave a score its final shape when accompanying showings in the theater, but Lang made certain that Huppertz was present on the film set with a piano available to set the mood he wanted for his actors. Though Huppertz’s initial score was for full orchestra, it was understood from the beginning that an organ version was equally consistent with the director’s intentions; both are considered “original” scores. The score performed by organist Conte for the Symphony’s presentation is based on the original score for organ.
“Metropolis” tells of a towering city of the future, which above ground has spires and towers, elevated highways, an Olympian stadium and Pleasure Gardens. But below the surface is a workers’ city where people live in tenement housing and work consists of unrelenting service to a machine. This vision of plutocracy versus labor was powerful in an era when the assembly line had been introduced on a large scale and Marx had encouraged class warfare. In essence, Lang serves up a futuristic city as a hell of material progress and human despair.