08th April 2015
Howard Assembly Room – 2 April 2015

There are many versions of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, all of differing lengths, especially the 1984 Georgio Moroder ‘rock’ version with a running time of 84 minutes. But tonight’s showing at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, is the most complete version out there, still with a few scenes missing, but coming in at a staggering, bum-numbing 148 minutes.

Add to that the fact that the Orchestra of Opera North are seated below the screen and will perform the original 1927 score by Gottfried Huppertz , and what you have here is a mammoth feat of endurance for conductor, musician and viewer alike. Thankfully, though, the film is naturally split into 3 parts and tonight’s performance gives everyone a chance to recharge their batteries after part 1.

The film itself is an absolute classic in early science fiction drama and tells the story of Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), the son of Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel), a wealthy industrialist, who rebels against his father’s inhuman treatment of the workers who have to endure long shifts underground in order to keep the city they live in at full power. The plight of the workers is brought to Freder’s attention by Maria (Brigitte Helm), who leads a group of worker’s children to the surface to see, in a nutshell, how the other half live.

The score is filled with every emotion known to man, and the recurring theme, especially when the Maria character is around, is stunning. The Orchestra of Opera North was faultless in their delivery, with perfect timing throughout. But, as the performance came to an end and they stood to accept the applause from an utterly enthralled audience, the relief on their faces was evident and, after a few deep breathes, the whole orchestra beamed with satisfaction at what they’d just pulled off.

Of course, you’d expect nothing less from one of the world’s best Orchestras and tonight’s marriage of film and live music was one of those rare moments most can only dream of.


Written by Kevin Petch