I know rescoring silent films is a thing but syncing a silent film, to me at least, is still new territory. Metropolis has been rescored several times from orchestral to techno. However, each rescore is for a different version. Thankfully someone did the work with the above video.
Using Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and the 2002 print of the film, play the album as soon as the opening logos are done and loop until the end of the film.
On the album cover, one of the figures is a man with a mechanical hand; a Maschinemensch or machine-man, if you will.
Act I has “Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Part One)” play through the info on what happens during the lost parts of the film. The drums kick in when the “Deep below” intertitle scrolls down. The first verse begins as soon as the romantic interest walks in. There’s a halo effect when we hear “…and shone like the sun.” The man with glasses tells Freder that he “wore out his welcome.”
“Welcome to the Machine” is incredibly appropriate. Even though we’ve seen the machine for a few minutes before the song begins, the dark undertone plays throughout. The initial buzzer happens when one worker is scalded and sets off the panic attack. People are forced into Moloch. The machinery noises heard help set the scene. The son in question is Freder as he sees the horror of the machine. The guitar strumming after the first verse happens when order is restored. We see shots of the city during the bridge. The second verse talks about the luxury that is experienced by those living above ground.
“Have a Cigar”, surprisingly, has very little that syncs up. When one of the workers is dismissed by Joh and opens the door to leave, the music stops and becomes tinny at the end.
“Wish You Were Here” talks about walk-on parts and leading roles, much like a movie.
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Part Two)” begins with intertitles explaining missing footage. Wind can be heard, possibly symbolizing the absence of the footage that would eventually be recovered. The crazy diamond in question is Rotwang, the mad scientist. The five-pointed star could hint to the five tracks that are on the album. When Rotwang raves about how one day the machine-men will look no different from mortal men, it can be a reference to the guy with the mechanical hand on the cover.
Act II starts with some soft organ music as the workers are gathered in the catacombs for a church-like service. The story of the Tower of Babel is told as we see a starry background, much like with Wish You Were Here, George Bailey. The corners of the frame shine with rays during the retelling as well as the word “BABEL”. When the first verse is sung, a light passes in front of Rotwang’s face after we hear “…you shone like the sun.”
“Welcome to the Machine” has the buzzer hit a little bit after the light shines on Maria. The first line is said when a monk, through the missing footage intertitle, speaks to Freder for the first time, like a welcome of sorts.
“Have a Cigar” posits the question “Which one is Pink?” as Rotwang prepares for the transformation of his machine-man to be indistinguishable from man.
“Wish You Were Here” talks about trading heroes for ghosts, much like the real Maria’s image was placed on the machine-man. Also, the fact that the dancer sort of keeps in time with the music after the verses.
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Part Two)” has the wind at the beginning but with Death, the absence of Life, on screen. The last part of the song fits with the somber tone as one of the workers dies in the melee.
Act III starts again with “Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Part One)” as the workers tear down the gate.
With “Welcome to the Machine”, watch the official video below and see if you can find similar imagery towards the end that reflects what was seen in the previous song.
Also, the children are led to the Club of the Sons. The parents are scouting for their lost boys. The crowd heard at the end reflects the mob at the burning.
“Have a Cigar” has the laser sounds play when the bell is tolled. The music becomes tinny when Maria and Freder kiss.
“Wish You Were Here” ends the movie as the last visual is an almost-replica of the handshake on the album cover.
For a quasi-reverse sync, this is OK. Yes, there is imagery but there are some long moments of dead space where the instrumental parts become a somewhat decent score that matches here and there. I do not know if this album works as well with other editions of the film so this could just be a case of trial and error.
Sync grade: B-