Pains-taking Plus Metropolis

by John Holbo on February 24, 2007

A bemused follow-up to my Frankenstein post. Here’s what you get tangled in, trying to edit this stuff into shape (plus YouTube goodies!). From the 1912 Everyman edition:

“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand. I am practically industrious—painstaking;—a workman to execute with perseverance and labour:—but besides this …”

From the appendix to the 1993 World Classics (Marilyn Butler ed.) edition, purporting to collate changes from the 1818 to the 1831:

“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand. I am practically industrious—pains-taking; a workman to execute with perseverance and labour:—but besides this …”

Finally, from the 1992 St. Martins, (Johanna M. Smith ed.) edition:

“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand. I am practically industrious—pains-taking;—a workman to execute with perseverance and labour:—but besides this …”

And I’ve probably perpetrated some typo somewhere, entering that in. So the circle of editorial life rolls ever on.

Bah. I guess I’ll just stick with the Everyman. But I assign Ben Wolfson the task of defending this wretched style of punctuation. The mad (mad, I tell you!) Gayatri Spivak writes of Frankenstein: it exhibits a “sympathetic and supportive colonial staging of the situation of the refusal of the withholding of specular exchange in favor of the monstrous colonial subject.” Me, I’m in favor of post-colonialism and post-semicolonialism. I’m going blind here. My specular exchange is shot!

Anyhoo. I do sort of have a reason for being interested in Frankenstein. I’m teaching philosophy and film and I focus on SF film. It so happens, in my syllabus, Dark City and Metropolis are back to back. So I was amused to discover, on YouTube, this video – a 10 minute remix of scenes from Metropolis, set to a techno beat that, peculiarly, incorporates a voiceover from Dark City. Kiefer Sutherland, as the quisling Dr. Schreber: “First, there was darkness. Then came … the Strangers.”

There are actually several Metropolis mash-ups and remixes (whatever you call them) on YouTube. As well as clips from the film itself. First, you should check out – but who can ever forget it – that classic, 1989 Madonna video, “Express Yourself”, directed by David “Fight Club” Fincher. It’s a big Metropolis goof: “There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as a mediator.”

I have a soft spot for the Moroder version. Here you get the flavor, if you can stomach the “Yes”. Plus some random bits stuck on the beginning and end. Give Moroder credit for realizing that actually Metropolis is a music video born before its time. Here’s Freddy Mercury, “Love Kills”. Or “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Or if you prefer: Bonnie Tyler, “Here She Comes”;

I kinda like this Pearl Jam “Do The Evolution” remix.

Here’s The Melvins.

The Mannheim Steamroller remix has Commander Cody and singing cowboy’s under the earth. “Unless the heart acts as a meteor.”

And don’t miss: some guy’s Pat Benatar Metropolis Karaoke nite!

If you just want the original, here’s a nice clip of Freder’s Delirium, plus the False Maria kicking it in the Yoshiwara District.

And here’s Rotwang bringing the robot to life.

And the True Maria narrating the story of the Tower of Babel.

I was reading Thomas Elsaesser’s BFI Metropolis [amazon] book on the bus. But then I left it on the bus, apparently. So now I have to buy the library a new copy. Sigh.

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Metropolis — Fritz Lang 2006 Promotion : NuT
02.24.07 at 9:08 am



Ginger Yellow 02.24.07 at 12:21 pm

Have you seen the anime Akira, written by Katsuhiro Otomo? It takes Lang’s premise and to some extent his aesthetic and runs with it in a more Asimovian direction about how we should treat intelligent, feeling robots.


Ginger Yellow 02.24.07 at 12:23 pm

Whoops. That should be the anime Metropolis. Otomo also wrote and directed Akira.


Kip Manley 02.24.07 at 3:03 pm

Based on a manga by Tezuka, which he did after seeing an untranslated print of Lang’s Metropolis and wondering to himself what, exactly, had been going on in that film.


John Holbo 02.25.07 at 4:08 am

I’ve never seen that Metropolis, or the Tezuka. He really saw an untranslated print and invented a story to go with?


Kip Manley 02.25.07 at 4:36 pm

According to this, he only saw a still, so I might be misremembering. I haven’t seen the manga, just the anime, and that (in the bustling mise en scène) sure feels much more directly inspired by Lang than would be suggested merely by having seen a still. —Then, it would be, wouldn’t it.


ajay 02.28.07 at 12:07 pm

Giving a nice link between “Metropolis” and “The Magic Roundabout”.

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