Sunday, November 07, 2010

Revew: Restored Metropolis

Finally got a chance to catch the restored version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I didn't get a chance to see it on some of the theater screens showings, but did catch it when TCM premiered it Sunday the 7th.

As I wrote July of 2008 The full-length version of the Fritz Lang film had been seen only once, at its 1925 premiere in Germany and many of the scenes in the original were never seen in America and were considered vital to understanding the film. A full quarter of the film was missing.

Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and explores the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. What I had seen up to this point was a confusing mish mash of disjointed scenes and plot holes which bore little resemblance to the description.

So when I saw that it was showing for the first time on TCM I decided to sit through almost 2 and a half hours of black and white silent film. A weird thing happens. First off the movie plot and scenes hold up very well. Many of the plot devices are still very much prevalent today. Second I was floored by how many contemporary science fiction films pay homage to Metropolis. It is interesting in hindsight to note how fast that it being black and white and silent stop being a distractions.

The restoration is not perfect. Many of the scenes are either completely made up of the restored 16mm film or just the odd frame here and there. The 16mm film was obviously heavily damaged and do not contain the same aspect ratio. As such it's clear when the restored sections are playing because of the grain, lines from missing sections of the film. But that aside, if you get a chance to see the complete film you will not be disappointed.

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