Metropolis, complete at last (?)

Via Blake at Science After Sunclipse, I learn that a complete version of Fritz Lang’s silent masterpiece Metropolis has been found in Buenos Aires.

I’m quite excited about this.  For those who haven’t seen it, Metropolis is arguably the greatest silent film of all time, a science fiction film about a futuristic city separated into the ‘haves’ who live in glorious skyscrapers, and the ‘have-nots’ who toil underground to keep the city working.  I only got around to seeing the film perhaps 5-10 years ago, and was moved both by the amazing imagery and the surprising depth of the story.  One of the most amazing things to realize while watching the film is that all the special effects were done without the aid of CGI!

The film was unsuccessful in its initial release in Europe and was butchered by producers for its American release.  The original, uncut version was seemingly lost forever, but it turns out that a copy had been sent to a film distributor in Argentina and ended up bouncing from collector to museum, with nobody realizing its importance until recently.  The entire story of its history is well-worth a read.

The new footage is being hyped, probably unreasonably, as quite revelatory.  Blake asks,

OK, cinema buffs, here’s a question: did you find this part of the movie problematic or difficult to understand? I, for one, missed whatever is supposed to be the matter here.

I didn’t find the earlier ‘restored’ versions particularly confusing, either: where footage was missing, restorers filled in the gaps with text descriptions.  I think the real joy, though, is seeing the film as the director intended it to be seen, not seeing the film as the director intended it to be read!

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