The web log If Charlie Parker Was A Gunslinger is a new thing under the sun — a kind of journal of visual culture composed almost entirely of images, with minimal comment. I think of mardecortesbaja as primarily a journal of visual culture, though the commentary has an equal place with the images. But at Charlie Parker it's mostly the images that talk — to us and, perhaps more importantly, to each other. The result is a sort of subliminal conversation that too much interpretation would drown out.
Tom Sutpen, one of the guiding lights at Charlie Parker, has just started a different kind of web log, Illusion Travels By Streetcar, devoted to his writing about film. In the first post, he produces this evocation of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which he jotted down on a legal pad for some writing project he can no longer remember:
that occult skyscraper of vision piled atop ever more crazed vision; of
fairy tale narrative and futuristic nightmare; of half-buried eroticism
and a mystic symbology lifted, with all the weightless ease of an empty
bottle, from the Old Testament; all in service to a vaguely Socialist
fever dream its director, Fritz Lang, had no real interest in. That
tattered Metropolis, in all of its deranged willfulness and splendor, will almost certainly never be seen in its entirety again.
It's a lovely piece of writing and a fine summary of the film but its last line has taken on a new resonance with the news, only recently reported and now spreading through the Internet like wildfire, that a complete print of Metropolis has been discovered, in a film archive in Buenos Aires. It's a 16mm preservation copy of a battered 35mm original, but it's all there — the film as Lang originally made it, before it got cut down by its American distributor — the only known copy of the complete film in existence. (The image above is a frame-grab from the print.)
This is exciting in itself and also for the wild hopes it arouses that other lost footage might someday still be found — a copy of Von Stroheim's four-hour cut of Greed, for example, or the footage RKO cut from The Magnificent Ambersons.
But enough dreaming. Check out Sutpen's new blog — I suspect it's going to be essential reading for movie fans.