Movie Review: ‘Metropolis’ restoration offers brave new world to film buffs
It was a feat of cinematic archaeology worthy of Indiana Jones.
The discovery in 2008 of an archival 16mm safety print of “Metropolis,” Fritz Lang’s 1927 futuristic masterwork, in a Buenos Aires museum has been hailed as the film buff’s holy grail, something one over-heated scholar said was “akin to recovering lost books of the Bible.”
In light of this stunning find, 25 minutes of formerly lost footage – including 96 sequences featuring several subplots and supporting players – has been lovingly, surgically edited into the whole to create the most complete and coherent version of the film since it premiered in Berlin 83 years ago (before it was butchered by distributors and its fragments cast to the winds). The new running time of 147 minutes still leaves five to six minutes of the original unaccounted for, but restorers have inserted explanatory notes to mark the narrative gaps.
The new scenes – bearing the unavoidable scratches and scars of time, yet also making new material easy to identify – more fully define certain plot dynamics, such as the animosity between Joh Fredersen, “Master of the Metropolis,” and the lunatic inventor Rotwang. The film’s musical structure now emerges more clearly and powerfully, and chapter headings are marked with titles, such as “Prelude” and “Furioso.”
All in all, this sterling new version brings “Metropolis” from a sketchy, incomplete and slightly campy film artifact to a full-blown, operatic masterpiece of ambition and excess. Lang and his brilliant collaborators – art director Otto Hunte, special-effects designer Erich Kettelhut and groundbreaking cinematographer Karl Freund – can now enjoy their full due.
“Metropolis” is set in a dystopian, Art Deco world of grand architecture and towering skyscrapers topping a grim subterranean netherworld of grinding gears and belching machines. It pits the elites above ground, led by city overlord Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel), against drone-like worker-slaves who toil underground.
Blithely straddling the two worlds is Joh Fredersen’s son, Freder (Gustav Frohlich), a fey child of privilege who comes to a late revelation about the suffering of the poor. That’s when he falls in with Maria (Brigitte Helm), a Madonna-like waif urging workers on to a peaceful revolution. And then there’s Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), the mad inventor who boils with dire schemes and has concocted a voluptuous robot in his basement that he makes over into a false Maria.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 75968Oklahoma tornadoes: 'It took it all'
- 30909Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 28067Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 24729Oklahoma State football: Limiting Wes Lunt's transfer options makes Mike Gundy look bad
- 6906Bounty hunters look for bail jumpers, fugitives on the streets of Oklahoma City
- 6904Oklahoma City Thunder: What could Serge Ibaka learn from Hakeem Olajuwon?
- 6686Oklahoma tornadoes: Several homes damaged by tornado, but no injuries in Edmond
- 6314Severe storms possible in Oklahoma again Monday
- 6228Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 5710Oklahoma football: Jay Norvell working on luring a tall group of wide receivers to Norman
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients