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Old 08-20-05, 04:10 PM   #51
marknyc
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Yes, I was talking about shooting speeds.

Michael is a legitimate new member with a real passion for this film - I hope my work lives up to his standards (and Michael Koerber's, who has asked for a copy when I'm finished).

I think passion about film is great - it's just not enjoyable when the tone gets nasty. (The title of my post was just a little fun - I didn't expect such anger!)

I'll state my case for this project one last time, and only report on progress from now on.

1. No matter what evidence is cited, we will never be sure what projection speed Lang wanted for Metropolis. The score is marked 28fps, there's evidence the premiere was at either 26 or 24 fps, and the film itself appears to have been shot at 16fps. The BBC prepared a version at 18fps, Martin Koerber, the man who supervised the recent restoration, has screened the film at 20 fps, and a score was recently commissioned at that speed for the Berlin Film Festival. So it's clear that reasonable, informed people can disagree on this point. No one can claim they "know" the correct speed, no matter how much research they've done.

2. Viewing Metropolis, or any silent film, at the actual camera speed is not akin to colorization or cropping, since it at least accurately reproduces the performances of the actors. It is not out of the question that some silent films were originally screened at that speed, so viewing them that way is not necessarily historically inaccurate, and we can't be sure that it compromises the director's vision in the way colorization or croppng does.

3. Since I cannot hire an orchestra to re-record the Huppertz score at a slower speed, I am being forced to make concessions in order to match the score to the slower film speed. These include replacing intertitles with subtitles, removing titles that describe missing sections, time-stretching the music occasionally, repeating sections of music occasionally, and shortening certain static scenes. I wish I didn't have to make these alterations, but I am finding those to be my only choices.

4. Anyone who finds natural movement in silent films offensive is free to watch the sped-up versions. Anyone who wants to see Metropolis at camera speed, let me know!

Back to the editing room.... =)

Mark
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Old 08-20-05, 11:46 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talemyn
Well, if he was talking about shooting speeds (I didn't look back to see the context), there seems to be some support for that.
It's still not correct, as Kevin Brownlow's research uncovered. His research cites to a number of silents shot at 22 and 24fps. Brownlow also notes that, "Karl Malkames, the son of silent era cameraman Don Malkames, and a cameraman himself, wrote to me recently- 'The practice of cranking from 20 to 24 to compensate for rising theatrical projection speeds was common while my father was at Fox in 1924.'" It thus appears to be not at all uncommon for silents to have been shot at speeds considerably faster than 20fps.

I'm not sure what the source of your quote is, as I don't see a link (unless I'm missing it), but it's not particularly convincing or well-supported. And, no, I don't think the fact that a number of other people, without any research or evidence, have said something before counts as "support."

Anyway, it doesn't make much sense for marknyc to have been talking about shooting speeds in the prior thread. There has never been much dispute that Metropolis was shot slower than 24fps; marknyc used to place it at 20fps himself. Why bother claiming that no silents were shot faster than 20fps if no one claims Metropolis was? No matter; it's wrong either way.

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Regardless of whether or not it is accurate (not sure we'll ever know), creating a version that plays at 16fps certainly doesn't seem like so crazy of an idea and could add some interesting material to add to the debate.
It sounds fine to me for people to do whatever they like when the watch films. Watch it upside while its rewinding at 2x, for all I care. It's the context and rationalizations offered here that I find objectionable.
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Old 08-21-05, 12:02 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marknyc
Michael is a legitimate new member with a real passion for this film - I hope my work lives up to his standards
Hmmm. I wonder who pointed him to this thread?

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(and Michael Koerber's, who has asked for a copy when I'm finished).
You mean Martin, of course, but, yes, we heard you the first two times you mentioned it. Anyone else get the feeling this thread is more about a person than it is about a film?

Quote:
1. No matter what evidence is cited, we will never be sure what projection speed Lang wanted for Metropolis. The score is marked 28fps, there's evidence the premiere was at either 26 or 24 fps, and the film itself appears to have been shot at 16fps. The BBC prepared a version at 18fps, Martin Koerber, the man who supervised the recent restoration, has screened the film at 20 fps, and a score was recently commissioned at that speed for the Berlin Film Festival. So it's clear that reasonable, informed people can disagree on this point. No one can claim they "know" the correct speed, no matter how much research they've done.
Two problems with all of that. First, the fact that it may have been shot at 16fps provides no help whatsoever; many silents were shot at 16fps with cue sheets from the producers that required they be exhibited at 24fps. Second, the rest of the examples you provide of the film being shown slower than 24fps are woefully after the fact. Koerber has explicitly stated, as I cited in the previous thread, that he slows the film down for aesthetic reasons, not historical ones. No research points to the film being designed for exhibition at speeds slower than 24fps. Slowing the film down to 16fps just because evidence supports various speeds in the 24-28fps range makes no sense. 16fps is simply far, far outside the margin of error. Just because we don't have a single definitive answer, it doesn't make any old framerate fair game.

Let's say I told you that, due to the strangeness of the earliest years of my life, I am not sure when I was born, but my best research shows that I am between 24 and 28 years old. Would you bother throwing me a 16th birthday party that year? It would be a goofy thing to do, unless you were joking.

Quote:
2. Viewing Metropolis, or any silent film, at the actual camera speed is not akin to colorization or cropping, since it at least accurately reproduces the performances of the actors.
So I guess watching, say, SIN CITY with the actors in front of the green screen as they acted on the set would be valid? Hey, it accurately reproduces the performances of the actors, right? Needless to say, this is silly. What the actors do on the set isn't necessarily what is meant to be seen by the audience.

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It is not out of the question that some silent films were originally screened at that speed, so viewing them that way is not necessarily historically inaccurate, and we can't be sure that it compromises the director's vision in the way colorization or croppng does.
For those silents that we can find evidence indicating that they may have been projected at the camera speed, that speed is acceptable for that film. But to say that because some silents were projected at camera speed, we can do it for all silents is silly. "Silent" is not a single film to which we can apply one set of rules when figuring out how to present it. Any film, silent or otherwise, should be researched individually to best determine the proper presentation, or at least an acceptable range. Throwing all of that out of the window for a given film because some other film out there did something different is preposterous.

If we have a film shot spherically, with various original releases having been projected at 1.66:1, 1.75:1, and 1.85:1, but we don't have any other evidence to figure out the correct AR...does it make it OK to project it at 2.35:1 just because other films have been projected that way?

Showing evidence of other similar films in a given time period can be useful for for verifying that evidence you've found isn't inherently defective. For example, the fact that other 16fps silents were projected at 24fps means that it isn't inherently dubious that Metropolis premiered at 24fps. However, it doesn't work the other way. If you've got no evidence at all to support a given theory of presentation of a film, looking to other films from the time period is meaningless in the face of actual evidence for contrary theories. Thus, there being no historical support for Metropolis being shown at 16fps, the fact that other silents may have been projected at 16fps doesn't even make a dent in the great weight of evidence for a 24-28fps speed. Unless you've truly got nothing in the way of historical evidence about how a given film should be presented, looking to other films doesn't mean much.

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3. Since I cannot hire an orchestra to re-record the Huppertz score at a slower speed, I am being forced to make concessions in order to match the score to the slower film speed. These include replacing intertitles with subtitles, removing titles that describe missing sections, time-stretching the music occasionally, repeating sections of music occasionally, and shortening certain static scenes. I wish I didn't have to make these alterations, but I am finding those to be my only choices.
So why use the Huppertz score? There are other options. Other video distributors have used different music for slower versions of the film. You could also put together other pre-existing music that you find fits various sequences. It might take extra work, but it sounds more worthwhile of an endeavor to me than randomly shortening scenes and cutting out intertitles.

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4. Anyone who finds natural movement in silent films offensive is free to watch the sped-up versions.
First of all, again, Metropolis is not "silent films." Metropolis is Metropolis. Second, you make it sound like an odd proposition for a viewer to find natural movement objectionable. As Brownlow's research indicates in the ever-useful article I've been linking to, "Filmgoers often remarked that the early talkies seemed leaden-footed." The audiences of the time were accustomed to faster-than-natural movement. Now, we face the opposite phenomenon of modern audiences finding some silents too fast.

DJ

Last edited by djtoell; 08-21-05 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 08-21-05, 12:59 AM   #54
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George Lucas is spinning in his grave over this one.
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Old 08-21-05, 05:49 PM   #55
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DJTOELL misses the point about Metropolis. It was shot at 16fps, the standard of the day. It was not shot at 24fps, apart from the stop action cityscape sequences which were shot at the faster speed, apparently. Where is the evidence that Lang wanted it run in the cinema's at 24-28 fps? There is none. Therefore we should look at the film as shot. Forget about Brownlow and others, and their comments on other films, or finding examples of such and such. We are talking about a specific film here. DVD copies should reproduce the film as shot. The National Film and Sound Archives in Canberra distributes its copy of Metropolis run at 16fps. Pending the discovery of clear instructions by Fritz Lang that he wanted his film run at greater than 16fps, then we must should run it and view it as shot. The "fast" Huppertz score is just one element of the postproduction tampering of this film. We only have to look at modern films such as Daredevil and Bladerunner to realise that producers and film studios have a lot of control over whether the director's vision reaches the public. Often it does not. For all we know a reel or two of Lang's original cut may have been omitted from the film during its original release, to shorten it. I am sure Lang's "Director's Cut" would have included all the 4189m of film, run at around 16-18fps and with a suitably appropriate Huppertz score, much the same as his previous epic, Nibelungen. After having looked at countless versions of Metropolis over the years I have come to the realisation that the best version, in my view, is the version as shot i.e. run at 16fps. And isn't this logical? The advent of DVD means that we can now see these old films in good quality, not cropped or subject to pan and scan, run at their original shooting speed, and with original tinting and scores. Like the recent releases of films by Charlie Chaplin. People will continue to meddle with Metropolis for years to come - speed it up, cut it, colourise it, add various soundtracks. That is all well and good, but the legacy of Lang and his team is the raw film. Shot at 16fps. And that's a good place to start.
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Old 08-21-05, 08:48 PM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelO
DJTOELL misses the point about Metropolis. It was shot at 16fps, the standard of the day.
The standard of the day for shooting, perhaps (and even that is highly questionable, but, unsurprisingly, you ignore all of the historical research I have provided), but not for projection. As I've cited earlier in this thread, historian James Card could not find a single cue sheet, out of thousands, for any silent film that calls for 16fps projection. And these cue sheets are often provided directly by the producers. Looking at camera speed provides no meaningful guide whatsoever when trying to figure out proper projection speed for a silent film. If you have either done any historical research, or had any respect for history, you'd already know this.

Hey, you say it was the standard of the day. Find me hard evidence of 16fps projection, intended by the director, for as many silent films as you can. I'll wait. If it was the standard, as you say, you should be able to provide thousands of such examples. It should be an easy task for you, since it only asks you to prove your own claims. You don't go around making unsupported claims, do you?

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It was not shot at 24fps, apart from the stop action cityscape sequences which were shot at the faster speed, apparently. Where is the evidence that Lang wanted it run in the cinema's at 24-28 fps? There is none.
The animation, score, and premiere were all in the 24-28fps. Hell, for David Shepard, the score's intended framerate alone is enough to figure out what Lang intended. All of those factors are directly related to the production itself and the single exhibition over which Lang was likely to be able to exercise any control. The only historical evidence that exists at all for Metropolis (and which you discount arbitrarily because it doesn't fit in with your personal opinion) indicates 24-28fps playback. No evidence exists indicating an intended slower projection speed. And, as we've already discussed, and which you also continue to ignore, camera speed provides no evidence for intended projection speed.

Again, find me evidence of as many silent films as you can of intended 16fps projection. Since you can't provide any for Metropolis, can you find it for other films?

Quote:
DVD copies should reproduce the film as shot.
Scary. I pray that no video distributor ever hires you to produce DVDs of silent films. Your mindset is exactly the disrespectful and historically-unsupported approach that Brownlow fights in the article I've been citing. It's a shame to see that, 25 years later, there are still people around who, like a bull in a china shop, run around ignoring history and applying their own personal opinion to other people's films.

Quote:
The National Film and Sound Archives in Canberra distributes its copy of Metropolis run at 16fps. Pending the discovery of clear instructions by Fritz Lang that he wanted his film run at greater than 16fps, then we must should run it and view it as shot.
How much clearer does it need to be that Lang had animation done for his film at 25fps? That Lang got a score intended to be performed with 28fps exhibition? That the premiere of Lang's film was done at 24fps? You toss all of this out as if its meaningless. Again, very scary.

Quote:
The "fast" Huppertz score is just one element of the postproduction tampering of this film.
How do you know that Huppertz's score was either part of "postproduction" (and not an element of the main production itself), or that it constitutes "tampering"? Why, because it's faster than the camera speed? Hogwash.

Quote:
I am sure Lang's "Director's Cut" would have included all the 4189m of film, run at around 16-18fps and with a suitably appropriate Huppertz score, much the same as his previous epic, Nibelungen.
And you're sure of this how? Because you like it?

You make these blanket statements, completely devoid of any historical context or research, and you expect it to hold any weight? It doesn't. It's just your opinion. And up against historical reality, it should be ignored when trying to figure out how to present the film correctly.

Quote:
After having looked at countless versions of Metropolis over the years I have come to the realisation that the best version, in my view, is the version as shot i.e. run at 16fps. And isn't this logical?
No, it isn't. The logical thing to do is apply actual research and other historical context. And none of it indicates 16fps projection, by a longshot. All you've got in your favor is that you like it. Hardly logical when trying properly present a film in its original manner.

Quote:
That is all well and good, but the legacy of Lang and his team is the raw film. Shot at 16fps. And that's a good place to start.
It's an OK place to start, but a horrendous place to finish. The history of Metropolis in particular and silent film in general indicates that playback at camera speed is completely inappropriate. And you're still yet to provide any actual hard historical evidence to the contrary. You like 16fps. Well, when you make a film of your own, you can decide how it should be presented. In the meantime, for other films, real research should be applied. And you've got none of it in your favor.

DJ

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Old 08-21-05, 09:25 PM   #57
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comparing modern day hollywood films (daredevil, and blade runner) to a movie made in Germany in the 1920's is like comparing modern day detroit cars to 1920 german cars....in essence they are the same, but the way they are made, marketed and sold are very diffrent things. The US studio system of today is leaps and bounds diffrent than it was in the the 20's. And UFA Germany was as far away from either as could be found.

At the same time When Lang was making Metropolis he was hardly a fresh face. He had directed a dozen films before metropolis, and had been entrusted with a large financial investment.

Anyone who has ever read a review with Lang will come to know quickly that he was quick to speak his mind about the studio systems in both Germany and U.S. Furthermore he has spouted off several times about the butchering of his metropolis for subsequent releases. However never once did he mention that it was played to fast. Lang lived into the 1970's and didn't shy away from interviews. He saw his films through several revivals, homages, and even become a favorite of the 16mm home screening versions sold through magazine ads and shown on college campuses.

Never once has he said it played to fast. It is absurd to think that cue sheets which passed over langs desk and are marked for the original speed are wrong.
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Old 06-07-06, 03:20 PM   #58
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Metropolis at Camera Speed

Well, I've finally finished this project that I began last August (I had to put it away for a few months), and the finished product is a revelation. Let me start by describing what I did:

I took the beautiful KINO restoration and converted it to an mpeg, and then began working on it it Pinnacle Studio 9. The first step was to remove all the titles describing the lost footage (great for historical purposes, but not so great if your ultimate goal is a watchable film).

Then I replaced all the remaining intertitles with subtitles, using a nice deco typeface in an attempt to match the fantastic deco production design of the film.

Then I began to slow the film down, since it's clear to anyone watching the film that it was not shot at 24 fps. People have argued that the film was orginally shown at that speed (I disagree), but I don't think anyone claims it was shot that fast.

As I experimented with different speeds, I found myself choosing 66% as the speed over and over again, meaning that the film was most likely shot at 16 fps. For these sequences, I was able to get the music to match by just repeating certain sections, and by shortening certain static shots, so they ran the same length as in the 24 fps version. (Removing the intertitles helped a lot, too.)

But once I got to the ending sequences, things changed. In order to get natural movement for all the scenes involving the uprising and destruction of the worker's city, I had to choose 50%, meaning these scenes were shot at 12 fps. I can believe that Lang undercranked with the intention of showing the film at 18fps, but I find it hard to accept that he wanted the entire last half hour shown at double speed! As I said, others disagree.

In order to make these sequences work without re-recording the score, I unfortunately had to do some re-editing. Lang had an editing style strange even for his day, I think: every shot is as long as possible! If someone is going to run across the frame, the scene starts before he enters and doesn't end until he leaves. Every door must close completely before a cut is made, every car must leave the frame, etc.

So, by some judicious tightening of shots (heresy, I know) I was able to bring it in at a running time of 118 minutes - 6 minutes shorter than the 24 fps version! I don't know quite how that happened, since the entire film is there, and I had to repeat a number of music sections. I guess losing all the intertitles made a bigger difference than I expected.

Someone wrote to me, "That's a lot of work just to get natural movement." But the final result is so much more. One thing I learned about showing films at other than camera speed is that it's incredibly disrespectful to the actors. It's hard enough to act without sound, but to attempt to emote so that it comes across when your performance is sped up is virtually impossible.

At camera speed, Freder and Maria's meeting is poignant, not hokey; her pursuit by Rotwang is frightening, not funny (it's gotten laughs every time I've seen it with an audience at sound speed); and the robot's erotic dance actually is!

I believe that at camera speed, the many complaints that Metropolis' story is inferior to its production design fade away. Sure, the final message is still facile, but at least the drama and power of the story are not lost in "Keystone-cops" chases and reactions.

I'd love for people to see it! Anyone want to arrange a screening? Let me know...

Mark

Last edited by marknyc; 07-10-06 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 06-07-06, 04:27 PM   #59
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I'm more interested in how to get a DVD-R of it...*wink wink*
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Old 06-18-06, 03:22 PM   #60
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This sounds extremely interesting.
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Old 06-18-06, 10:50 PM   #61
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This sounds extremely interesting.
Absolutely. BTW, isn't this in the public domain? I know you used the KINO restored version, but the movie is in the PD. That being the case, you could probably post this online somewhere, no?
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Old 06-18-06, 11:53 PM   #62
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Absolutely. BTW, isn't this in the public domain? I know you used the KINO restored version, but the movie is in the PD. That being the case, you could probably post this online somewhere, no?
Unfortunately not. Although the film is in the public domain you still can't take someone else's work, in this case KINO. It's like music that's in the public domain. Just because an orchestra may record it doesn't mean you can use that recording.

That said, where can we get a DVD-R copy again?
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Old 06-18-06, 11:53 PM   #63
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I'd love to see it. If you ever figure out how to let people outside of New York see it (online or DVD-R) let me know.
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Old 06-19-06, 12:41 AM   #64
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Um, wasn't there another thread where this guy got ripped apart?
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Old 06-19-06, 12:45 AM   #65
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Yea, I'd love to see all the hard work you put in on this project. I hate watching Metropolis at 24fps, it's just not right...

Send me a PM and maybe we can work something out.
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Old 06-19-06, 08:49 AM   #66
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Old 06-19-06, 10:29 AM   #67
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Thanks for all the interest. As to my being "ripped apart" in another thread, there are certainly people on this board who feel it is blasphemy to even think of re-interpreting another artist's work, but I feel that the original projection speed of Metropolis is debatable at best, and I just wanted to see what it looked like at at camera speed, since it possibly was screened that way originally.

Martin Koerber, who supervised the KINO restoration, wrote me recently saying, "You may interested to know that Filmmuseum Munich recommended for years to show their restoration at 16 fps..." So I am not alone in this opinion.

The one area in which I have contradicted Lang's choice is in compensating for undercranking. Certain scenes were shot at 12fps, as was the convention of the time when shooting chase sequences, etc. I wanted to restore the entire film to camera speed, so those scenes are slowed down to 50% of the KINO speed. This is purely personal preference, and I can understand why film historians would not agree with this choice. For me, it makes all the chase sequences far more watchable.

But my efforts are being faithful to certain artists' work: the actors. Their performances can now be seen as they gave them, in some scenes for the first time. It's a revelation, as I noted in my first post.

If anyone wants more info, please send me an email!

Mark

dcfvgb at hotmail dot com

Last edited by marknyc; 06-19-06 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 06-20-06, 11:09 AM   #68
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My first review - and from a stranger, too!

Mark

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WOW!

Mark - I got your Metropolis dvd yesterday and had a good look at it last night. It is terrific. Amazing in some ways, actually. To see the movie with the intertitles deleted is great (in most instances) and your subtitles work well (in most instances). And of course, running the film at the speed it was filmed is great. For example, the footage of the first meeting of Freder and Maria with the children in the Garden of Sons is so much more poignant, and there are many other instances of much more moving moments, and this was not evident in any other version I had seen. Most of the "silliness" is gone in your version. And the way in which the music tied in with the footage was great - it shows, just as I thought, that the music runs at camera speed, and to therefore run the film faster is a travesty. There are a few instances where the subtitles don't work - especially where there is not enough film to accomodate them on the screen, or where they cover up an important image, such as Maria in the transformation tube. But overall I think you have done something really interesting and innovative. I think in the future I will use your version to show people what Metropolis is REALLY like. Congratulations.

Michael
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Old 06-20-06, 11:18 AM   #69
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Wow . . . congratulations! It must be extremely satisfying to have pulled something like this off.

And add me to the list of people who'd be interested in taking a look.
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Old 06-20-06, 07:09 PM   #70
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This must have felt good to finally get it done.

I'm very interested in this as well.
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Old 06-20-06, 07:26 PM   #71
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I too, would love to see this. If you plan on doing a screening in NY anytime between June 25th and July 13, I'll be home in Staten Island and would definately go out of my way to see this.

And I'm sure many people here at my school (Brooks Institute of Photography, Ventura, CA) would love to see it, as well. We have weekly film screenings and if you're interested I can probably have one set up with all credit towards you.
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Last edited by CKMorpheus; 06-20-06 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 06-20-06, 08:24 PM   #72
Shemp
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I admire your dedication.
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Old 06-21-06, 02:18 PM   #73
marknyc
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New York City
Posts: 134
Hey, CK, I'd love to arrange a screening. A friend can reserve the big-screen theater in his apartment building in midtown Manhattan so we can see it as it should be shown. What's a good date? How about the first or second weekend in July?

Anybody who wants to come, or who wants more info about the DVD, send me an email:

dcfvgb@hotmail.com

Best,

Mark
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Old 07-07-06, 02:40 PM   #74
marknyc
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Location: New York City
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Another review, from a stranger:

I did manage to get to watch it tonight, and you're right, it's like watching another movie entirely. The entire mood feels different, far less manic and nervous. And it's obvious you put a lot of work into it. The transfer looked really nice, as did the scene selection screen. I could tell when you made some of your edits, but overall they weren't so distracting. Very well done! I'll definitely be showing this to some of my cinefile friends.
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Old 07-08-06, 02:20 PM   #75
marknyc
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New York City
Posts: 134
One more review. (I swear I am not writing these myself! =)

I am nothing short of astonished at what you have accomplished here with METROPOLIS. Quite frankly, the entire affair has a level of professionality to it I wasn't expecting; no offence intended, it's just very clear that an abundant amount of talent, tenacity and passion went into this re-edit that I wouldn't have believed possible outside of a studio proper, and now the original Kino DVD comes off as such a disappointment in comparison. Thanks for taking the time to show us the METROPOLIS we all deserve.
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