There’s nothing more exciting, at least in my little corner of the world, than researching something few people have ever bothered to investigate. So it is with film composer Gottfried Huppertz, whose remarkable music brings zest and life to Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis. It amazes me that this music was virtually unknown until the score was revived around 15 years ago, finally putting Giorgio Moroder’s 80s synth pop soundtrack to bed. I’m more amazed, though, that people continue to produce new scores for the film, as though Huppertz’s were anything other than essential.
What frustrates when investigating Huppertz’s life, though, is the tissue of hyperbole and assumption that fills the gaps in what is actually known. Was he really an influence on those film composers, like Korngold and Waxman, who made their way from Europe to Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s? How would we know if he was? In the absence of real tangible connection between their music, or some testimony to the effect that Korngold et al heard and learned from the scores to Metropolis and Die Nibelungen, does this supposition just equate high-quality with influential? The road ahead will certainly involve distilling what is known from what is said, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it.
If you want a taste of Huppertz’s music for Metropolis, try the video above.