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Restored version of ‘Metropolis’ screening in Keene

Published: 12/23/2019 11:53:37 PM

A silent film hailed as the grandfather of all science fiction fantasy movies will be screened with live music at the Colonial Theatre in Keene on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 2 p.m..

“Metropolis” (1927), an epic adventure set in a futuristic world, will be shown with live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent films.

Regarded as German director Fritz Lang’s masterpiece, “Metropolis” is set in a society where a privileged elite pursue lives of leisure while the masses toil on vast machines and live in poverty.

The film, with its visions of futuristic factories and underground cities, set new standards for visual design and inspired generations of dystopian fantasies from Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” to Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.”

In reviving “Metropolis” and other great films of cinema’s early years, the Colonial aims to show silent movies as they were meant to be seen – in high quality prints, on a large screen, with live music, and with an audience.

“All those elements are important parts of the silent film experience,” said Rapsis, who will improvise an original live score for ‘Metropolis’ on the spot. “Recreate those conditions, and the classics of early cinema leap back to life.”

The story centers on an upper class young man who falls in love with a woman who works with the poor. The tale encompasses mad scientists, human-like robots, underground spiritual movements, and industrial espionage, all set in a society divided between haves and have-nots.

The version of “Metropolis” to be screened at the Colonial is a newly restored edition that includes nearly a half-hour of missing footage cut following the film’s premiere in 1927. The lost footage, discovered in 2008 in an archive in Argentina, has since been added to the existing “Metropolis”, allowing plot threads and characters to be developed more fully.

Even in its shortened form, ‘Metropolis’ became a cornerstone of science fiction cinema. Due to its enduring popularity, the film has undergone numerous restorations in the intervening decades in attempts to recover Lang’s original vision.

It was widely believed that this would be the most complete version of Lang’s film that contemporary audiences could ever hope to see. But, in the summer of 2008, the curator of the Buenos Aires Museo del Cine discovered a 16mm dupe negative of ‘Metropolis’ that was considerably longer than any existing print.

It included not merely a few additional snippets, but 25 minutes of “lost” footage, about a fifth of the film, that had not been seen since its Berlin debut.

The restored “Metropolis” will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 2 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, 95 Main St., Keene. Admission is $10 per person general admission. Tickets are available online at or at the door. For more information, call the Colonial at (603) 352-2033.

For more information on the music, visit

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