Booklet - Metropolis - Approach - Concert - Music - Movie - Afterwards - Statement
The text below is an integral copy of the original booklet. Here's the original front cover of the booklet.
MICRART GROUP PRESENTS :
The original electronic soundtrack
to the silent movie 'Metropolis'
by Fritz Lang, Germany 1926,
composed and performed live by AUTUMN '84
This booklet explains the intentions of the project
and can be used as a manual while listening to the tape
METROPOLIS REFERENCE WORK
TAPE + BOOKLET : MC 8402
- METROPOLIS - FILM/CONCERT - WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 22, 1984 -
Metropolis is een historisch document
de film weerspiegelt sociale verhoudingen
Metropolis is een morele en cultuurfilosofische aanklacht
de film weerspiegelt technocratie en machtsmisbruik
Metropolis is een kunsthistorisch document
de film illustreert zijn eigen tijdloosheid door het boeiend thema in futuristische verpakking
Metropolis is a historical document
the movie reflects social relations
Metropolis is a moral and socio-philosophical charge
the movie reflects technocracy and abuse of power
Metropolis is an art-historical document
the movie illustrates its own timelessness by the fascinating theme in a futuristic packaging
Machines crying with their own sound, own music, the domination of technology;
a structure produced by the human being, becoming master to which we became
humble servants; We're listening to the voice of supremacy...
Some remarkable aspects of Metropolis, although the movie declares it only as a fact: Metropolis does not tent to criticize this situation, we do it. (the fact that Metropolis seems to criticize, is only created by the realisation of a toplical soundtrack, bringing such situation to 1984.) Metropolis only uses the fact as a frame, an environment in which the film describes the for us rather historical idea of the disturbed unity between working hands and commanding intellect. Only in this sense, the earlier public should be able to recognize something of their own world, the western economical situation before world war 2.
Let's go back to the 'theme of love' and its contrast 'evil', elements that are shown in their pure content, because thay are the basic principles for a well-composed, easy-to-digest movie with the triumph of love, affection, good over evil. We can't be sure if we should make deeper interpretation. We didn't, but used these themes to build up a schedule with contrasting and recurring musical themes.
It was necessary to reconstruct the script, which we did by studying the film over and over, using a videocopy. The whole soundtrack was based on this detailed reconstruction : some major recurring parts, seperated passages, and non-thematic passages. While composing, we always started from the images : the music was arranged in function of the place, idea, sphere of that moment in the film. Considering the fact that the score neede to be performed live, we required a perfect timing, and some parts were also prepared on playback tape.
Autumn '84 was a project which was only (finacially) supported by the band itself. This is why all music is realised with private means, excluding computers or advanced synthesizers. Visually, it was even worse. only for the live concert, we rented some extra material such as videomonitors and additional synths.
Though all was done with minimal means, it was sufficiant to get an acceptable result. Besides, we do not claim this lack of technical and financial means. our most important merit is that we realised a soundtrack which fully respects the original movie and story, and supports it expressively ! The material limitation had no influence on the quality of the achieved work.
AUTUMN '84, februari 22 1984, at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Live performance of the Autumn soundtrack, in synchronisation with the video-projection on large screen of the remake by the state-archive of East-Berlin of the 2-hour original version.
Geert Coppens : Machinal Sounds, Vocal, Crash, beta, Rhythms
Peter Koutstaal : Strings, Voices, Tapes, Delays, Rhythms, Mix
Peter Bonne : Lead, Theatre, Melody, Sequencers, Tapes, Mix
The movie is presented in 2 parts, which are also the two sides of the MC 8402 tape. Each of the performers had his videomonitor to be able to follow the images continuously as the big screen hanged right above. All sound-sources (videosync, tapes, synths, voice, effects) were mixed on stage, and directly recorded on tape and video. Extracts of this live recording are featured on the MC 8402 tape. The success of this concert is irrefragible. The tape and album were felt as necessary.
The performance caused new interest in Metropolis. We were able to express admiration but also tried to make the picture understood on its pure historical and deeper level, where we notice the danger of 'systems'. Metropolis not only deals with the contemporary vision of future society where technology hands over luxurous cities to live in, but in teh fiorst place with the vision of men, lead by overwhelming technology and alienation. There still can be found the influence of the German philosophy of history: a given situation, the revolt against it, and the result - a new society with cloudy skies. Besides, the script does not claim Marx, but worked out a combination between historical optimism and the german mystic, rather than religious, mentality.
The pieces of the soundtrack on this tape are named using a structural number, which is mentioned in the story 5B below. Not all compositions are on this tape, but we chose the best representing parts for having a good overview of the whole movie. Some themes are used several times in the soundtrack, with different arrangements, other instruments. On this tape, each theme appears only once, in a more general arrangement, though still loyel to the original idea. All tracks on this tape are recorded at Autumn's own Attne E studio on a 4-track, except 1A4: at studio Uptide; 2A1 and 2A3 live on feb 22, 1984. All sounds and noises are recorded by Autumn using electronic equipment (except the sound of water, which is real water). It is preferrable to have seen the movie to be able to understand some sounds or effects which are in close relation to the image of that moment in the movie. The story 5B below may help you in that way.
For the Autumn album, we decided to make a mix of the most important themes
of the soundtrack, but to rearrange the music into a more independent piece.
This is why 'Hirn und Hande' is not chronologic, nor has the original expression
in it's melodies. The music is transferred into the album's concept and became
more romantic, relaxing nice music, though not all of the idea is lost (we still
hear the machines beat).
The Autumn Album finally never got released, but it's heritage is compiled on the Micrart release MCD 8404
Some tracks of the soundtrack may appear with a different title. Here's a list
of explanations :
2A3 : Jerusalem
3B : Kiss Me
Sequence on the Hirn-Und-Hande remix track (MCD:
2D1 : gamma-x theme
1A1 : alpha theme (city theme)
1A4 : epsilon theme (citizens theme)
1A2 : delta theme (machinery theme)
1A3 : beta-theme (workers theme)
2E1 : water
2C2 : zeta theme
2C3a : whisper
1A5 : gamma theme (love theme)
The 3A track is taken from 'Up To Now' by Twilight Ritual with permission. (MC 8210).
Metropolis is a city with two classes of people : the rich and the poor, the citizens and the workers, those who live above and those who live beneath the surface.
Freder, son of Joh. Frederson
Joh. Frederson, boss of the city
Rotwang, inventor and advisor of Joh. Frederson
Maria, 'priestess' of the workers, beloved of Freder
Grot, the foreman
The film starts with a suppressing equal cadance of machines (1A2), teling us about the hard circumstances in which the employees (1A3) work. We see them, after work, returning to their subterranean homes. On the surface, the citizens are having fun at the sports arena and at a party (1A4) at Freder's place. On that moment, Maria enters the room, surrounded by poor children, showing them how the citizens live. Freder instantly falls in love with her (1A5) and wants to get her back, once she has left. As he descends, he is impressed by the view of all these men working under tension. Freder wants to convince his father to do something about it, but he says this is the way it has to be. Freder decides to do it on his own, and infitrates as a worker.
Joh. Frederson talks about this new idea of his son with his advisor Rotwang, who is also an inventor. Rotwang demonstrates the power of his latest creation : a robot (2A1). Meanwhile, Freder discovers that all workers meet at a certain place after work. He follows them down into the old catacombs and finds Maria talking to them about peace, hope, and explaining the story of the Tower of Babel (2A3). At the same moment, Joh. Frederson and Rotwang also arrive and as Joh. Frederson notices the power of Maria over this people, orders Rotwang to replace her by his robot, so that he achieves more control over the workers. Later, when Freder has left Maria - having made an appointment - Rotwang kidnaps her (2A5).
The day after. Freder waits for Maria in the cathedral (2B1), but as she doesn't show up, he starts looking for her in the city. At Rotwangs house, he hears her yelling (2B2). However, as he tries to get in, he gets locked up. Rotwang now transfers Maria into his robot, which becomes an exact duplicate of her, and sends it to Joh. Frederson for instructions. He releases Freder, telling him Maria wenst to his father, who continues his search (2C1). The sight of Maria close to his father makes him faint (2C1). - He didn't know it was the robot. - Lying in his hospital bed (2C2), he is wandering in his mind while Rotwang presents his robot to the commoners (2C3a) at a party in which Freder sees the hand of death (2C3b).
Later. Rotwang keeps watch on the real Maria, who is depressed (2D1), while the robot incites the workers to revolt. Freder tried to convince the furious people to stay calm but the strike him down and go and destroy the machines. Grot, the foreman, also tries to stop them, telling them it would do more harm than good, but the only continue destroying. Maria, who is aware of the disaster coming over her people now they all follow the robot, manages to free herself from Rotwang and descends to the workers-village. Once arrived, the whole city collapses and gets overflown (2E1). As the workers are destroying the machines, only their children are left in the houses. Freder hears the noise of destruction, and finds Maria saving the children (2E1). Together they succeed to bring them to Freder's place in time.
Grot, the foreman, finally makes the workers, celebrating their victory, listen
to him. They all turn against the robot-Maria realising that, by destroying
the machines, they've let their children drown. They go to find her -she fled
to the citizens- and burn her at the stake (2Fb). Burning, the robot turns into
iron again, revealing it's secret. Rotwang, knowing he just lost his power,
tries to catch Maria again but, on the roof of the cathedral, Freder defeats
him (3A) and he falls down, dead. The furious people are set at ease knowing
that Freder, their assumed enemy, saved their children. Finally, Freder convinces
Grot, representing the working class, and Joh. Frederson, representing the citizens,
to shake hands (3B).
"Mittler zwischen Hirn und Hande muss das Herz sein."
"The heart must keep head and hands together."
We now have a point of comparison : the for us completely unexpected version
of Giorgio Moroder.
AUTUMN '84 never had the intention to attain with their soundtrack a large audiance, because it would end up in such an artificially forced performance which would make disappear the artistry by the sacrifice of our vision: You cannot commercialise a movie from 1926 which has a very different cultural background on which it is thus inspired, because such a thing supposes a certain self-consciousness of each potential spectator.
Preparing the score we documented ourselves, and this documentation, or the absorption of historical facts and givens, was highly necessary to understand the sphere of the movie, to catch the message of the author and the spirit of the age. Presneting our work, we counted upon an audiance prepared to bridge over to the past generations of filmmakers and -techniques. And more: the spectator should be able to catch the spirit of the age and the great artistic value of the movie, without getting distracted by rags of music which only underline the internal drama.
The film is an historical document, rather than accessible topical movie-aesthetics. The subject of Metropolis is, in spite of the gap that seperates us from the German Expressionism, still very topical. The fundamental idea that man as homo faber can bear down upon selfdestruction (e.g. because of power), deserves new interest. Fritz Lang worked out this exiting idea which is susceptible to interpretation and the only bridge to be made situates itself externally: the topicalised soundtrack can illustrate that the idea is essentially right and deterrent.
De film is een historisch document, eerder dan toegankelijke actuele filmesthetiek.
De idee van Metropolis is, ondanks de kloof die ons van het Duits Expressionisme
scheidt, nog altijd zeer actueel. Het gegeven dat de mens als homo faber op
zelfdestructie kan afstevenen (omwille van macht bijvoorbeeld) verdient nieuwe
Fritz Lang werkte een boeiend gegeven uit dat vatbaar is voor interpretatie en de enige brug die moet gemaakt worden situeert zich uiterlijk : de geactualiseerde klankband kan illustreren dat de idee wezenlijk juist en afschrikwekkend is.
Autumn '84 wishes to thank the many people who helped us to realise this unique live performance.