Monday, August 11, 2008
Metropolis to be WHOLE again after 80 years?
No, I’m not talking about Superman’s city. I’m talking about the influential 1927 science fiction silent film by legendary German filmmaker Fritz Lang. For various reasons, the film was drastically chopped up and edited down following its initial release (probably for censorship reasons or in an attempt to make it shorter and more “appealing” for foreign audiences), and those cut portions were presumed lost.
For those of you who haven't already heard, apparently those missing scenes recently turned up in the archives of the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires. The missing pieces are now in the Berlin film museum Deutsche Kinematik, where the film is undergoing complete restoration. Apparently a handful of film experts have already seen the restored footage and claim that it provides answers to plot holes that have baffled film enthusiasts for decades.
A little background for those who have never seen Metropolis: It was one of the most expensive movies of its time, and it remains arguably one of the most influential science fiction movies (if not one of most influential movies, period) ever made. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and even Doctor Strangelove, amongst other films, owe a great deal to Metropolis. It's definitely a must-see for science fiction film buffs, and a good introduction to silent film for anyone who's never seen a silent film.
Currently, the most complete version available on DVD is the 2001 Kino restoration, which also includes the film’s original 1927 score. The story of Metropolis, a futuristic city-state, centers on a clash between the city’s elite, who live in the upper parts of the city, and the city's workers, who live beneath the city. The plotting is a bit heavy-handed for modern audiences, and some of the scenes and acting styles seem a bit silly and dated; but overall, the film remains a masterpiece of mesmerizing images and stunning set pieces. Some of the film’s special effects baffle audiences to this day. I've watched the film dozens of times and still find it hypnotic.
I HAD been thrilled with the near-completeness of the 2001 restoration. A version that’s even MORE complete and restored is a treat I didn’t expect to witness in my lifetime. You can bet I’ll be there opening night once the new restoration makes it to my neck of the woods!
Here's the trailor for the most recent version of Metropolis, complete with restored visuals and original score: