Metropolis, Nosferatu & South w/the Alloy Orchestra

by

comment
Silent film was conceived with sound in mind. Though it often plays second fiddle to the image, sound makes movie magic, suggesting place, time and mood. This weekend, the three-man Alloy Orchestra will make that magic live, hammering it from an assemblage of found objects and electronics as they accompany three silent classics: Metropolis (1926), Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horrors (1922) and South (1919).

South ‘s epic survival story shames the petty melodrama of TV’s "Survivor" series. Twenty-eight men board the ship Endurance and set out to explore Antarctica. The ship’s name proves to be apt: Stranded on the ice, the crew and their sled dogs survive for two years until they are rescued. Cinematographer Frank Hurley artfully documents this quiet drama of true grace under pressure in a journal of moving pictures supplemented by beautiful still photographs and illustrations.

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horrors is director F.W. Murnau’s stark, moving picture book of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Screenwriter Henrik Galeen essentializes Stoker’s novel into a grim fairy tale without stakes or neck biting. Nosferatu is the silver screen’s most grotesque and seminal vampire. His mere presence is contagion and only a heroine pure in heart can break his spell.

Metropolis is an epic fable of class struggle. In the year 2026, the world is divided into a proletariat which lives in Underground City and a ruling class which lives in lofty Metropolis. Maria (Brigitte Helm) is leader of a clandestine, quasireligious resistance movement of workers who await the advent of a chosen one whose heart will mediate between the minds of Metropolis and the hands of the Underground City. Fritz Lang’s story and direction are sumptuously mythic and stylish. If you can only see one film of the series, make this the one.

Though the films are worth the price of admission alone, it’s the Alloy Orchestra that makes this weekend an event. It may seem either grandiose or ironic to call a three-man ensemble an orchestra, but the name suits the sounds it creates. Listen to it forge the magic into these movies. It’s an experience not to be missed.

James Keith La Croix writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.