On This Day
1927 – Fritz Lang’s futuristic film Metropolis is released in Germany.
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist epic science-fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang. Scripted by Thea von Harbou, with collaboration from Lang himself, it starred Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Erich Pommer produced it in the Babelsberg Studios for Universum Film A.G. The silent film is regarded as a pioneering work of the science-fiction genre in movies, being among the first feature-length movies of the genre.
Made in Germany during the Weimar Period, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. Filming took place in 1925 at a cost of approximately five million Reichsmarks. The art direction draws influence from Bauhaus, Cubist and Futurist design.
Metropolis was met with a mixed reception upon release. Critics found it pictorially beautiful and lauded its complex special effects, but accused its story of naiveté. The film’s extensive running time also came in for criticism, as well as its alleged Communist message. Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere, removing a large portion of Lang’s original footage.
Numerous attempts have been made to restore the film since the 1970s. Music producer Giorgio Moroder released a truncated version with a soundtrack by rock artists such as Freddie Mercury, Loverboy and Adam Ant in 1984. A new reconstruction of Metropolis was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001, and the film was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in the same year, the first film thus distinguished. In 2008 a damaged print of Lang’s original cut of the film was found in a museum in Argentina. After a long restoration process, the film was 95% restored and shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously on 12 February 2010.
Born On This Day
1887 – Robinson Jeffers, American poet and philosopher (d. 1962)
John Robinson Jeffers (January 10, 1887 – January 20, 1962) was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast.
Much of Jeffers’ poetry was written in narrative and epic form, but he is also known for his shorter verse and is considered an icon of the environmental movement. Influential and highly regarded in some circles, despite or because of his philosophy of “inhumanism”, Jeffers believed that transcending conflict required human concerns to be de-emphasized in favor of the boundless whole. This led him to oppose U.S. participation in World War II, a stance that was controversial after the U.S. entered the war.
Jeffers was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (now part of Pittsburgh), the son of a Presbyterian minister and scholar of ancient languages and Biblical history, Reverend Dr. William Hamilton Jeffers, and Annie Robinson Tuttle. His brother was Hamilton Jeffers, a well-known astronomer who worked at Lick Observatory. Jeffers traveled through Europe during his youth and attended school in Germany, France, and Switzerland. An outstanding student, he was instructed in the classics and Greek and Latin language and literature. By age twelve, he was fluent in German and French as well as English. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Occidental College at age 18. While attending college he was an avid outdoorsman and active in the school’s literary societies.
After he graduated from Occidental, Jeffers went to the University of Southern California (USC) to study at first literature, and then medicine. He met Una Call Kuster in 1906; she was three years older than he was, a graduate student, and the wife of a Los Angeles attorney. Jeffers and Mrs. Kuster became lovers. Mr. Kuster discovered their affair in 1910. Jeffers dropped out of USC medical school and enrolled as a forestry student at the University of Washington in Seattle, a course of study that he abandoned after a semester, at which time he returned to Los Angeles. By 1912 the affair became a scandal, reaching the front page of the Los Angeles Times. Una spent some time in Europe to quiet things down, then the lovers lived together by Lake Washington to await the completion of Una’s divorce. The two were married in 1913, then moved to La Jolla, California, and finally Carmel, California, where Jeffers constructed Tor House and Hawk Tower. The couple had a daughter who died a day after birth in 1913, and then twin sons (Donnan and Garth) in 1916. Una died of cancer in 1950. Jeffers died in 1962; an obituary can be found in the New York Times, January 22, 1962.
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