- Film Festival
I still can't believe Mr. Conte was not playing the original score that would have accompanied the film 84 years ago. The music accompaniment, a seamless, perfect syncing of visuals and sound; amazingly was improvised!
The sold out Metropolis Event this past Saturday was a great success and a fun and interesting way to both celebrate and fundraise for 10/20! (PFS's 10th Anniversary and 20th year of the film festival).
Partnering with the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ and hosted by Macy's Center City, attendees were treated to a truly unique Philly film event by pairing Fritz Lang's 1927 restored sci-fi work of art with the historic Wanamaker Organ, fantastically played by Peter Richard Conte.
Metropolis is an ambitious film, even by today's standard in terms of themes explored. It mixes in a myriad of religious doctrine, including a savior/mediator and the dual perception of women throughout history of being both temptress and goddess. You've got man vs. the machine; the inequality between the haves and the have nots; which includes both angry & peaceful revolts of labor vs. industry. The main character Freder is born into privilege, being the son of the founder of Metropolis, but he's concerned with the plight of the drone workers, switching places with one to see how the other half lives. Throw in a mad scientist,36000 extras, including 7500 children; and a futuristic take on an Art Deco set design, and what you've got adds up to quite a spectacle, without anyone having to speak a word.
The reception preceding the screening was held on the 3rd floor of Macy's in a stately, wood paneled, ornately designed room, not normally open to the public. Pictured above is Ray Biswanger, Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Executive Director, Nora Alter, Chair of Film and Media Arts at Temple University and Andrew Greenblatt, Philadelphia Film Society Executive Director. Nora's discussion of the film was a welcome addition to the reception, as was organist, Rudy Lucente (also pictured), who entertained on the room's smaller organ.
Jerry Hagart and Andy Carbone are members of the Organ Society and classic film buffs. Jerry saw Metropolis years ago, but Andy actually streamed some of it on Netflix earlier that afternoon. I'm always amazed at Netflix's extensive catalog, perhaps they would be a good company to advertise on this new PFS website!
Jon Pearce and Nancy Smith heard about the Metropolis screening on WRTI Radio and bought tickets immediately. We got into a discussion about Oscar nominated films, Jon is another film-goer who gets swept up in a film's music, he purchased the soundtrack to The King's Speech because it featured Beethoven 7th Symphony. Nancy saw all the Oscar nominated films including the showing at the Ritz of all the nominated shorts.
Peter, Wallace and Ester are also members of the Organ Society. Peter and Ester are enthusiasts of organ music, but Wallace also plays and coincidentally, also used to sing in the choir of my church, St. Luke and The Epiphany, although we have no prior knowledge of one another. Now he sings with The People Church of St John/Cathedral Choir School of Wilmington DE. An inter-generational choir that supports inner city youths, including an after school program that has received The President's Coming Up Taller Award.
I loved the drama going on with this gentleman's attire and had to go speak to him. His name is Jym Paris and as I imagined, he is an actor and multi-media artist. Last season his one man show premiered at Walnut Street Theater's Independent Studio. The piece was a mixture of poetry, drama, humor and his personal philosophy of life, a la Noel Coward. Jym is currently working on a new play The Diamond in her Duomo, a romantic mystery of a husband and wife who search the world over for a rare diamond.
For those not in attendance, here's a little more information about both the film and historic organ:
In 1925 German director Fritz Lang set out to make the biggest film in history. Two years and over a million dollars later he had created Metropolis, a massive tale of a towering city of the future. While the film nearly bankrupted its studio, UFA, and initially received mixed reviews, it would become the most influential science fiction film of all time.
Following its German premiere, the lengthy (153min) Metropolis was cut and re-edited, with much of the original footage believed to have been lost forever. On July 1, 2008, film experts in Berlin announced that a 16mm reduction negative of the original premiere cut, including almost all lost scenes, had been discovered in the archives of the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The print was in poor condition and required considerable restoration before making its re-premiere in Germany in February 2010.
The Grand Court Organ- Built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company for the 1904 S. Louis World's Fair, was designed by renowned organ architect George Ashdown Audsley. In 1909 Philadelphia merchant-prince, John Wanamaker bought the instrument for his new emporium. The Grand Organ was first heard on June 22, 1911, at the exact moment England's King George V was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Its size is 462 ranks and 28,500 pipes, containing the equivalent resources of three symphony orchestras.