Friday, September 6, 2013


Having finished Summer Under the Stars, TCM is once again giving us a Friday Night Spotlight on Friday nights. This month, the theme is "Future Shock!", at least as the TCM online schedule calls it. In other words, movies that take dystopic looks at the future. Movie critic Michael Phillips -- whom I admit I've never heard of, but then, I don't really pay attention to the modern professional movie critics -- presents 16 movies about the future. Several of them are of a more recent vintage than the average TCM fare, a fact that I'm sure is going to irritate some people to no end. "Oh my goodness! TCM is going down the tubes! Don't they know we want 'classic' movies?"

Well, tonight starts off with one of the old movies, Metropolis at 8:00 PM. It probably is the best choice to start with, since it's one of the first movies about the future, and it's a seminal movie for fans of science fiction as well as fans of its director, Fritz Lang. It's one of those movies I saw many years ago, back before the lost footage was found. Metropolis now runs around two and a half hours, and I have to admit that I haven't seen this version in full. I watched part of it the first time this cut aired on TCM, and the thing about it that struck me was how obvious it was what was the previously existing footage and what was the newly-found stuff. There are movies like Two Arabian Knights that were badly degraded before they were re-discovered and restored to the best ability of the restoration people, but there, the degradation looks "natural", by which I mean that the contrast between the problem footage and the rest of the movie is a bit more gradual, all seemingly having come from one source. With the restoration print Metropolis having been taken from several sources, I found it not only obvious, but jarring and somewhat distracting when the recently-discovered footage showed up. It's a bit of a shame, but if the alternative is not to have this footage at all, what are we going to do?

Metropolis is available on DVD, and I'd assume that the DVD that TCM is hawking at the TCM Shop is in fact the restoration version. The night's other three dystopia movies are available from the TCM Shop as well:

Things to Come, HG Wells' heavy-handed look at the future, at 10:45 PM;
Kurt Russell trying to Escape From New York at 12:30 AM; and
Former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam goes decidedly non-comic in Brazil, at 2:15 AM.

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