1. Do you recall the very first time you ever saw the
Moroder version of "Metropolis"? How old were you?
What sort of impact did it have on you?
I first saw Metropolis some time in the late 80s, when
I was in my teens. As a Sci-Fi fan, I knew about Metropolis from books but had never seen it before - obviously. One Sunday I saw that a film called Metropolis was going to be shown in the afternoon. I was lucky that I had
decided to set up a video tape because the film started early, so I only missed the first 10 seconds or so.
the film was great. I remembered being impressed that, here I was, watching a
Sci-Fi film that was about 60 years old! The film looked even older to me then,
because the quality was nothing compared to what we're used to now :-)
The film I saw and recorded was actually the Giorgio Moroder
version but I didn't know that then. I just thought someone had put a modern soundtrack to a silent film. As a Queen fan, I was surprised to hear a Freddie Mercury track in there.
That crummy quality recording with mono sound was watched
many times over the years. The tape got quite worn.
2. What made
you decide to completely reconstruct this version of the film?
I saw the restored version in about 2002 and was blown away by the improvements
in film quality. It was like watching a new film. There were details that I marveled
at - so many new things to see in each frame.
I'd never really seen how Art Deco so much of the design was until then (like
the wallpaper in Freder's apartment).
The idea and hope that someone would restore Moroder's version occurred after that and bubbled away for years. You know, it's one of those
things that pops into your mind ever year or so, and you go and check to see if
anything new has developed.
Well, nothing did. Except that I got hold of a copy of a Greek release of Moroder's version on DVD and wasn't too impressed with the quality
there either. It looked like a DVD rip off standard VHS to me but it was a commercial
release! Even the laser disc versions weren't up to much.
realised that nothing was going to happen with Moroder's version, so I might as
well use the restoration as a little project to learn Final Cut Pro. 'Little project',
what an idiot!
think it's important for people to realize that you didn't just transfer the film from laser disc to DVD. Please tell us about the sources you used, and how you constructed
the "Redux" version.
Like Moroder, I used every source I could find. DVD,
laserdisc - even VHS in some cases. I picked the best and then reconstructed the Moroder film edit shot-for-shot. I then catalogued and re-applied all the colour tints; re-created many special effects and cleaned up the audio
and synchronization issues. Basically I was trying to make the film Giorgio would
have made if he'd had the technology available in the 80s.
I've been very
careful about what improvements I have made of my own bat. I've always tried to
keep true to what Giorgio was trying to achieve. Sometimes it was very difficult
to resist putting extra tints of SFX in.
Why do you think so many purists simply do not like the Moroder version
Well, 80s disco style music isn't to everyone's taste :-) When Moroder's
version came out, some people hated it immediately: "How can he added MODERN music
to a 1927 classic?!" He also colour tinted a black and white film (Despite the
fact that years earlier film were always tinted). Shocking!
Well he did,
and Metropolis' popularity today is arguably directly attributable to Moroder
taking the film out of the archives and bringing it in front of a whole new audience
in 1984. Me, for one.
Metropolis is a unique film in that there is no definitive original edit around and that it has been 'diddled' with in so many ways. Only 15,000
people saw the original in Germany before it was pulled by UFA for re-editing and shortening in 1927. And then there was the debacle of the American edit, shortening the film even further and completely changing
Interesting that Lang himself has responded to questions about Metropolis
with "Why are you so interested in a picture which no longer exists?"
people are obsessed with seeing Metropolis exactly as it was during that first
run and anything that gets in the way of that is bad. Some people also don't like
remakes of old songs. Some people don't like old buildings being knocked down
and new ones made. Well, yes, new things can be done badly, but the intent of
Moroder was to bring to new light a film which he loved. All credit to him, I
Actually, many people have commented to me that they like the pacing of
Moroder's version better, as the 'original' film drags too much. I guess that's
why UFA started editing it down in the first place too slow moving for some!
5. Have you heard about "The Complete Metropolis"? Are you anxious to see it?
I've heard about it and I saw it a few months ago too. It really adds back some parts which have always been vague.
Like what happened to Giorgi after he and Freder swapped places. Moroder tried to tell the story with stills but the new footage spells it out and also adds the Thin Man's menacing adventures back in. In previous versions
he seemed to disappear after Frederson called him into his office and told him
to watch Freder.
The new (well, re-found) footage also explains more of the relationship
between Rotwang and Frederson. There are lots of other little bits which have
been re-instated too. Go see the film when you can.
The quality of the
extra footage is bad though - even after digital restoration. It's really easy
to see where the new parts are.
6. How has reaction been to your work? Do you find that there is a great interest
worldwide to see the Moroder version on DVD?
Those fans who love Moroder's version love it too. They basically say thank you for restoring an old favourite and that they don't have to worry about their worn out VHS tapes dying :-) Even those people who aren't
specifically fans of the Moroder edit love seeing the Redux version. Metropolis has been a cult film as well as a classic
for many years.
Some are less enthusiastic - like the German copyright/license holders. I've seen no official word from them but it seems like they just don't like Moroder's version and are trying to bury it like it never
happened now that they have the 'complete' version (which is still missing footage,
There's been a petition online for some time now asking Giorgio Moroder
to release his version on DVD, but I think it's out of Giorgio's hands, as I mentioned
just before. People have mentioned trouble getting the rights to all the music
for a reason that Moroder's hasn't appeared on DVD, etc, but the Moroder soundtrack
is still available new from Amazon for about 12 bucks ... so the rights can't be that hard to get.
And an Italian friend is sending me a commercial
DVD release of Moroder's version which has just come out there. Yes, a COMMERCIAL release. You may now feel a pang of jealousy :-)
People react differently to
situations. Someone created a petition to get Moroder to re-release his version.
I just did it myself - and improved the quality while I was at it.
7. Are you a big fan of Giorgio Moroder's music, or 80's music in general? What other artists do you like?
I was familiar
with Moroder's work from the Freddie Mercury connection and also his Neverending
Story and Electric Dreams movie soundtracks. As a child of the 80s, I do like
that style and it's interesting that artists like Ladyhhwake and Ladytron are
popular now, making such retro-sounding music (pop and electronic,
It was only since my work on Metropolis that I've heard some more of Moroder's ground-braking musical work. I hadn't previously known his "I
Feel Love" single with Donna Summer was such a leap for electronic pop music.
His E=Mc2 album was the first live to digital album recorded. You can track that
down on Amazon easily enough.
8. Do you know if Giorgio has seen your
No idea. I did send a message about what I'd done through his official
website but heard nothing back. He's probably a busy guy :-)
know years ago he designed his own supercar? ... Although it never went into production,
9. Why do you think this film still fascinates people almost 100 years after it was made?
On a positive note, Metropolis is spectacular, ground-breaking, visually stunning, controversial, thought provoking - and not really 'of it's time'.
On the down side, it's also illogical, corny, controversial, old-fashioned, butchered
- and not 'of it's time'.
Coming to grips with Metropolis is a bit like trying to hold onto an oiled snake. I know a fair bit about Metropolis and have seen it many many times,
sometimes frame-by-frame, and I still discover new things. Many people
love a great personality, love mystery and love the unobtainable in a person.
Metropolis is just like that as a film. Hugely far-seeing but also greatly flawed.
Although made in our past and set in
our future (2026 - ironically, about the same year the European copyright of the
film expires), the film isn't really OF a particular time or place or people and
so can have many interpretations or identities read into it.
the film apparently and thought it supported his ideals. Lang wasn't too pleased
about this and shortly after an invitation to head the Nazi film ministry, left
for the US. His wife stayed in Germany to work with
the Nazis, so she and Lang were divorced not long after.
10. Where can people get more information about the "Redux" version
of Metropolis? Do you have a website?
To read more about my Metropolis
'story' you can visit: http://www.morodermetropolisdvd.com
Note that you can't just buy my DVD there. But that doesn't mean there's
no possibility of seeing it.
International copyright is quite complicated. Made in 1927, Metropolis was in the public domain since the 50s in the US
but was re-copyrighted in the late 90s. That law has since been found unconstitutional and the whole issue of re-copyrighting old films seems
up in the air for now. In other places like South Africa,
it's been in the public domain since 1977. It's enough to do your head in!
can also read more about how I created my DVD and see updates on my blog: http://metropolis-redux.blogspot.com/