Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Metropolis and meatloaf

Sunday evening, while walking towards the theatre, Eliana and I confessed one another we never managed to finish watching “Metropolis”.
Well, it wasn’t a confession really, we were mainly stating a fact.

We both tried to watch it during high school and University, usually late in the evening or early morning hours, the best way to lull yourself into sleep. “Metropolis” might as well be a German expressionism masterpiece, but let’s face it: above all it’s a “polpettone”. Now, this is tricky… “Polpettone” means “meatloaf” in Italian and it defines those kind of films (or books) that are just way too long, too involved, often “intellectual” (or pretense of it) and, at the end, very boring. I never heard of “meatloaf movies” (aside the movies starring Meat Loaf) but I couldn’t find a single word in English that I could use to translate the concept of a “film polpettone”. In case you got the word for it, just let me know.

In spite of our past “failures” with this polpettone, when I asked my friend about going to watch the movie, she immediately agreed. The trick is that this was a special showing: it was the new restoration made from the 16 mm films found in Buenos Aires with a live orchestra playing the original soundtrack by Gottfried Huppertz.

I think the orchestra saved the day. The live music made the experience more “real” and interesting, so now both Eliana and I can proudly say that “yeah, we watched Metropolis”: it’s like wearing proudly a bagde of honour (not as cool as owning a “I beat the Sword Master” t-shirt, bust still cool).

After finally managing to finish it without falling asleep, I can confirm  that“Metropolis” is a 100% polpettone. It wasn’t bad, I actually enjoyed it and part of me now wonders whether my inability to watch it in the past was yet another reaction against things that are supposed to be “masterpieces” or of “higher cultural level”.

But, no matter how much I liked it, the movie lasted at least 30 minutes too much (45 minutes less would have made it so much more bearable): there is limit to the number of highbrows coreography I can stand before growing restless.
There’s also another fact that made me painfully aware of the movie being too long. I suspect the architect that designed Teatro degli Arcimboldi (where the movie was shown) is probably the same one that designed the Ryanair seating plan. Leg-room level: imaginary. Maybe that's why those 30 minutes more felt much much longer.

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