I first saw the film Metropolis in either high school or college. It was the two hour version, which was the only version available at the time. And I thought it was amazing. There is a reason why it's considered a masterpiece (set design, striking performances, general awesomeness). And since they've recovered 25 more minutes of film that had thought to have been lost, it really is even better. So, now I have a videotape of the 2 hour version, and the DVD of the 2 and 1/2 hour version. And now I also have a CD of the Alloy Orchestra's score of the extended version, because I got to see them perform it last night. While I was a little tired during the first hour of the film (it was a long work day), the final hour and a half was one of the most amazing combinations of film and music that I've ever experienced... until tonight.
But first - "ALLOY ORCHESTRA is a three man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources."
That's from their website, and it's completely accurate. Heck, I got to see one of the guys show off his Stradivarius saw!
Tonight was a Lon Chaney double feature - Phantom of the Opera and HE Who Gets Slapped. Phantom was just like Metropolis - solid start, but amazing finish. However, there was a 75 minute break between both movies, and I seriously considered just skipping out. I'm so glad I didn't.
HE Who Gets Slapped is a fantastic film! Lon Chaney plays a scientist/inventor who loses both his work and his wife to the same man. Finding the tragic humor in all of this he becomes a clown whose routine is that he gets slapped. He finds love again, but other forces, both old and new, keep it from him.
Even if this film had no score it would be tremendous. The story is poignant, dramatic, and tragic. The acting is uniformly strong, with Chaney giving a standout performance.
But the real winner was The Alloy Orchestra's score for this film. It was, in my mind, even better than their score for Metropolis (and like I said, I bought that immediately after watching the film). I found myself tapping my feet at times, nodding my head to the rhythms, and leaning forward just so I could hear that tiniest of bits better. It wasn't just a performance, it was an experience.
I really can't recommend these guys enough. Any lover of great films should at least see them once. Suffice to say, any time they come back to Cleveland, I'm clearing my schedule so I can see them again (and again).