If you grew up in the eighties and remember the MTV-ized ""Metropolis"" that was fluffed out with big hair pop tunes. Then you remember that the movie was stunning to look at but hard to follow. So its no surprise to learn that when Fritz Lang premiered his film in 1927, there was at least thirty minutes of footage that most people have ever never seen, until now.
The restoration work on the new re-release of "Metropolis" is beautiful. Each frame has been digitally restored, removing years of aging, lifting the muddled fog that shrouded the film in earlier releases. The original soundtrack returns and you hear the intended tone of the emotions in the classic silent cinema way. And while this new cut of "Metropolis" weighs in at a hefty 120 minutes, there's still some shots that are lost in time. For scenes that they weren't able to restore, the details are filled in with text cards, similar to the narration slides originally used. Between this and the new found footage, the story that Fritz Lang tells, finally starts making some cohesive sense.
"Metropolis" wraps up larger than life themes. Class struggles and revolution set the stage for two doomed lovers from opposite sides of the city. But not just any city, a fantastic futuristic city which has inspired cinematic minds ever since. "Metropolis" looks like the production sketchbook for a host of modern science fantasy films. Surely "The Fifth Element", "Blade Runner", "Brazil", and others pay homage to Fritz Lang's vision. And "Metropolis" like those others, is best enjoyed on the big screen.
You start to notice just how weird Fritz Lang and the production crew of "Metropolis" were. The psychedelic cutaways with the multiple staring eyes is strange enough but does anyone else notice the inverted pentagram that provides the focal point for "Metropolis" signature scene? Seeing magic melding with technology, provides a weird spark for Lang's' cinema.
While this restoration has taken years to assemble, I have my own theory about how new material for this movie keeps turning up. The characters inside of "Metropolis" have created a time machine which allows them to create new footage and then go back in time and drop it off, so that years later the new scenes can be "discovered" and their impact into our future never dies.
But that's just me. And I'm still recovering from my trip to the renewed "Metropolis".
For Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 8/21/02
Metropolis - Restored
Germany - 1927