I saw Fritz Lang’s film, Metropolis, for the first time, two months ago. This was in its original, un-cut form, accompanied by a Wurlitzer organ, at the Royalty cinema, Bowness, Cumbria. The two-hour experience was totally immersive and very poignant.
The image on my chosen slide was used for the poster of the film, and although this is an iconic image of German Expressionism, the slide was archived in ‘Science Fiction’, a genre known for its perspective on the future.
Indeed, it seems that much science fiction has become and is becoming science fact. Many of the images from the film pre-empted scenes of the Nazi concentration camps that followed Lang’s escape from Germany in 1934.
The materiality of film has specific qualities that are different from digital images. Like vinyl, and acoustic sound, these analogue qualities are being appreciated again as valuable forms of knowing, not from a nostalgic point of view, but as forms not to be lost or erased from the beautifully complex cultural whole.
In the film, Metropolis, fundamental cultural values are finally restored to the populous. The Visual Resource Centre represents an important archive that is both historic and futuristic that should not be lost or erased from our cultural memory at the very time it finds its renaissance in new materialism.
Dr David Haley
Senior Research Fellow
MIRIAD Research Centre, Manchester School of Art