Monthly Archives: February 2010


Fritz Lang’s masterpiece “Metropolis” was screened at the Brandenburg Gate for the most recent Berlin Film Festival. What’s noteworthy about this screening is that it was the first public screening of the most recent, and more complete, restored version.

When “Metropolis,” was originally shown in Berlin in 1927, it had a running time 153 minutes. However, the export version was cut down to 114 minutes. Soon it was cut down further to a mere 90 minutes in order please theater owners, who wanted a higher turn over of customers each day, and because the plot was too “controversial.” (And just think, “Atlas Shrugged” was still 30 years away.)

With all the cuts and differing versions, the original was thought lost. Then in 2001, a restored version was put together using footage collected from the different versions along with intertitle cards for missing scenes. This version clocks in at 124 minutes.

In 2008 a copy of what may be the original cut, was found in Buenos Aires, and a further 25 minutes of additional footage was added to the 2001 reconstruction. Unfortunately, the Argentine copy was heavily degraded, and was a 16mm copy of a damaged 32mm copy, meaning that the additional footage will probably always be noticeable. It was this 2008 version that was shown this year in Berlin.

So what does this mean if you want to watch Metropolis yourself? My recommendation is to wait, and and be careful about what you buy.

I own the unrestored 90 minute version, and it’s completely unwatchable. The images are dark, cropped, and constrained to a flickering circle in the middle of screen. For instance, the scene shown in the above movie poster is limited to about the middle ninth of the still. Don’t pay attention to the running time. The time is stretched because the film is run back at less than 24 fpm, and so all the music is out of sync. This version is a complete waste of money.

Then there’s 2001 124 minute version. This is version that is recognized by UNESCO. It’s available today, but in light of the latest reconstruction, I’d also stay away from it.

Unfortunately, the 2008 reconstruction has yet to be released, but is expected to come out at the end of this year.

Alexander McQueen

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen is dead. I was never someone who followed fashion, in fact for years I found haute couture baffling until I stopped seeing them as ostensibly clothes, but rather simply as art.

The reason I bring this up is not only because the guy apparently committed suicide, or that the man knew how to put on a show, but because I’ve been sitting on that picture of the Milan Fall 09 “The McQueensberry Rules” show for a year in my drafts folder, and I’ll never get it out if I don’t use it now.

Any of these would have been perfect for someone attending the Edwardian Ball.

Fidel at Bat

The only picture hanging in my apartment is the above photo of Fidel Castro playing baseball. It’s a poster entitled, “Fidel at Bat: Images of the 20th Century.” I bought it because it was such a non sequitur. There was Fidel, playing baseball in a full stadium, with cameras all around him. There was no context for this photo. It was just there.

I wondered what was going through the pitcher’s mind. Was he told to give up a hit to El Presidente? Does he lob the ball up there so Fidel can get a hit? If he does, he can’t make it too obvious that it’s just a lob. What if Fidel just whiffs at it? What if, Fidel when he enters the box, says, “Give me your best pitch.” Do you show it?

Did Fidel play the whole game? Probably not. It was probably just a stunt, but in my imagination, he plays the whole game and goes 3 for 4 with a sacrifice bunt. (“We must all make sacrifices for the good of the whole,” Fidel is quoted as saying in the post-game interviews.)

Originally, I was just going to leave this post with that image, but as I searched around for a scan of the photo, I found several more photos of Fidel playing baseball, including wearing a baseball uniform, instead of his trademarked army uniform. Unfortunately my search added a bit of context to these photos, but it flesh out my alternate reality a bit. Castro was a star pitcher in college, noted for his curveball, so of course, he’s a pitching. He also, lead off. Lead off pitcher. That’s my Fidel.

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BarBot 2010

Next Wednesday and Thursday, (Feb 17-18), at the DNA Lounge (“A disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals”) (375 Eleventh St; SF) is BarBot 2010. Tickets are $10 advance, $15 day of show.

Come out and have iZac pour you a fuzzy navel, and the girliest drink in the house!

UPDATE: Tue Mar 16 05:23:28 PDT 2010
Photos! Video!