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'Metropolitan' Helmer Hails DVD

13 Feb, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

The critically acclaimed 1990 independent film Metropolitan finally is arriving on DVD, with the full Criterion Collection special-edition treatment, and director Whit Stillman couldn't be more pleased.

Metropolitan streets Feb. 14 via Image Entertainment distribution.

There's been plenty of Internet discussion and clamor for the title on DVD, the director said.

“I'm glad we can finally have it for [the fans],” Stillman said. “And I hope that other people will discover the film.”

The adolescent-angst film is about a group of highbrow New York society debutantes as they embrace the friendship of a middle-class fellow.

Metropolitan was available on VHS, but because the film is so dark in texture it never looked that good in the tape format, Stillman said. He was thrilled to go back and work with Criterion on a restored high-definition digital transfer.

And, as luck would have it, Stillman held on to plenty of extra and alternate footage of his directorial debut, which fans will now see on disc.

“We had a big casting change in the shoot,” he said. “Two of the actors, Chris Eigeman and Will Kempe, changed parts. And on the DVD, we show the different versions.”

Stillman also was able to include an outtake montage. “That's the great thing about DVD,” he said. “We knew we had some funny stuff, and we wanted to save it. We just didn't know when we'd have the resources to use it.”

The outtake footage is raw and gritty, Stillman said, but it shows “what a haphazard production it really was.”

Stillman also recorded an audio commentary with actors Eigeman and Taylor Nichols and the film's editor, Christopher Tellefsen.

“The editor often has the most interesting perspective on films, and is sort of analytical about it in a way we aren't,” Stillman said.

Tellefsen most recently edited the Oscar-lauded Capote.

It was important to Stillman to have different perspectives of the film represented on the DVD, such as the included essay by film author Luc Sante.

“He wrote a wonderful review of Metropolitan when it came out,” Stillman said. “I suggested Criterion take his review and put it on the disc, but they actually got a brand-new retrospective essay.”

Stillman's three films work as a sort of coming-of-age trilogy. Warner Home Video released a DVD of Barcelona in 2002, but The Last Days of Disco, which was released on DVD in 1999 by Polygram Video, could use an update, Stillman said. “I hope the Metropolitan DVD will send a message to Universal to do Last Days of Disco,” he joked.

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