Well? Anyone seen it? I’m not seeing any threads about it.
I saw it twice at NYC’s Film Forum.
As you probably know, this new version adds about a half hour of new footage, in very scratched form, to the restoration released into theatres and on DVD a few years back. Sometimes this means that a few frames have been put back (so that a character is allowed to complete a motion interrupted by an intertitle, you’ll see what I mean) and sometimes it means whole new scenes have been restored. For example, there’s a scene where a group of children are being evacuated from the flooded undergroud worker’s quarters. This scene is now extended with a very effective suspense device (I won’t spoil it, but you’ll know what I mean).
The one really essential addition, for me, is the restored sequence of Freder’s fever dream, involving a mad sermon from a monk (an encounter with said monk is one of the scenes that is apparently lost for good) and visions of the whore of Babylon, intercut with the Robot Maria’s naughty dancing in front of some amusingly aroused guys in tuxedos.
Another restored sequence involving a pair of minor characters adds nothing except some plot exposition. I had some hopes for this section, as one of the characters is played by a favorite of mine, an actor named Fritz Rasp who can always be counted on to be interesting.
I’ve got some mixed feelings about the whole thing. METROPOLIS comes from the period where Fritz Lang had not grasped the idea of the concept of the possibility of less being more. METROPOLIS certainly feels tighter than WOMAN IN THE MOON and SPIES, which just go all over the place, and METROPOLIS has a grand merry energy bordering on delirium that just can’t be denied. Everything’s a little too big, a little too much, and is often a lot too big, and a lot too much. This isn’t always bad, but it isn’t always good. The final battle between Freder and the mad scientist Rotwang, on the roof of a cathedral no less, can feel like one mad flourish too many, if I’m in the wrong mood. Mercifully, I was in the right mood both times I saw this restoration.
One thing that really stuck out this time is the exceedingly high quality of the acting, a pretty consistent factor in Lang’s films, and METROPOLIS has no shortage of interesting performances. I’ve always been a fan of Rudolf Klein-Rogge’s work, and his demented mad scientist Rotwang is a joy to behold, going from grand scenery chewing to restrained underplaying and back in the blink of an eye. The actor playing Freder has never been a favorite of mine: he always seems to be working too hard at embodying positive youthfullness: the eyes too bright, the smile too wide kind of thing, but he gets a couple of interesting moments where he’s allowed to just think onscreen, with assorted ideas and emotions crossing his face. And the great Brigitte Helm, as the film’s two Marias, plays the virginal Pure Maria very nicely, never going overboard with the piety, but she really goes for broke as the Robot Maria, flinging herself into wickedness with an abandon that is always entertaining to watch. I do think Robot Maria’s Extreme Wickedness goes a bit too far, though, especially when she’s supposed to be preaching to a bunch of workers who’ve only seen the original Pure Maria, and nobody really seems to notice the difference between the two. It’s like nobody noticing that Shirley Temple has been replaced with Lady Gaga.
Worth seeing? Definitely. It was worth it to see the film properly projected on a bigger than my TV-sized screen. I haven’t mentioned the brilliance of the design, the high quality of the production, and all that, as I’d imagine that most of the folks who bother to check this page out are already well aware of them. If it has been a while since you’ve seen METROPOLIS, then hell yeah, get your ass to the movie theatre or get the damn DVD.
Can’t WAIT to get it when it comes out on DVD. Might get it on Blu-Ray, even…..
Yeah, it’s not coming to SoCal until early to mid-June. A few friends and I are waiting in anticipation.
Damn, that’s surprising. I guess we got it first. That’s a switch. I’ll be seeing it again in July at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I’m very excited about that. I’d have expected more of a roll-out for this.
Here’s an article in Undercurrent about how the more complete version of Metropolis found in Argentina was officially unearthed from its archival home of more than four decades.
I’m seeing it later this afternoon in Muskegon MI. I’ll say something here when I get home.
It’s playing at Laemmle’s Royal in Los Angeles and Laemmle’s Playhouse in Pasadena through Thursday, May 27th. http://www.laemmle.com/viewmovie.php?mid=5695
Kino has a list of playdates here: http://www.kino.com/metropolis/playdates.html
I felt that the additional footage made the structure of the film more compelling. I enjoyed it a lot.
TJ, he was talking about that footage.
and yes, ive seen it. i have the converted version of an HD DVR recording form when it was screened in the UK and germany. its very nice. you can tell what scenes were the ones restored though.
Just had the pleasure to see a screening at the Cleveland Museum of Art this afternoon. I’ve always loved this film and now just love it all the more. The restored / complete version is a must see!
I will definitely add this version to my DVD collection once it is released.
wow, I did not know of this! This makes me incredibly happy. I look forward to when it is released in europe!
We’re getting it here starting June 11th.
Here are my thoughts on the “complete” Metropolis, that I watched this past Sunday in Muskegon MI.
My overall impression: highly positive, very grateful for the work that was done to put the pieces together – but realistic to know that the restored scenes don’t make such a big difference as to dramatically change anyone’s opinion of the film. Not that I know of any big detractors – Metropolis is fairly beloved, though most would say that it ranks behind M in Lang’s body of work. No great shame in that, M is brilliant and highly influential. Really, those are two powerhouse films that alone establish Fritz Lang as a top-notch director.
The restored scenes are very obvious whenever they appear on the screen, with many vertical lines across the entire picture and slight but noticeable cropping along the top of the frame. Some of the insertions are very brief, just a few seconds or so, reaction shots or short extensions that don’t disrupt anything but the timing of the musical score after they’re removed. But there are a few scenes that are clearly enhanced. One, involving a subplot about the Thin Man sent by Joh Fredersen (the powerful industrial overlord) to harrass Josaphat, ally and co-conspirator with his son Freder, injected a welcome note of menace and villainy into the plot as we see the old man resorting to raw intimidation to get his way. Another sequence depicting the statue of Hel, Fredersen’s late wife and the object of obsession cherished by Rotwang, the archetypal mad scientist, also supplied clarifying motivations for each of those characters as we see the twisted sense of devotion and mourning that fuels each of their crazed power grabs. A pair of cathedral scenes bring Lang’s biblical allusions even more to the forefront as we see a preacher ranting about the Whore of Babylon (illustrated in an engraving that the false Maria subsequently re-enacts in her wild dance at the Yoshiwara nightclub.) And the final escape and rescue sequence of the children escaping the flooding subterranean workers city was made much more dramatic and exciting with several minutes of extended tension.
One deletion that still has not been remedied involves what I consider a critical segment, in which the real Maria, who’d been taken captive by Rotwang so that he could use her as the prototype for his fiendish humanization of the Man-Machine, escapes her captivity when Fredersen bursts into Rotwang’s old fashioned house. Why that scene was ever cut makes no sense to me at all, without the benefit of watching the edited versions of Metropolis anyway. How do they account for Maria’s transition from being Rotwang’s test subject to her eventual reunion with Freder without actually depicting her release? Maybe somebody reading this would care to fill me in.
Full blog entry can be found here: http://crsidetrips.blogspot.com/
It’s actually making it all the way down here in Tampa, FL next month. Looking forward to it.
Looks like Kino forgot to include it in their list, but it’s playing three times a day at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in West Hollywood through Wednesday, June 2nd. If anyone in the greater Los Angeles area hasn’t had a chance to see it yet, I highly recommend it. http://www.laemmle.com/viewmovie.php?mid=5695
For those that saw it in theaters:
Was it digitally projected? Or a 35mm print? There was a sign on the poster at the Ritz (Landmark) Theater in Philadelphia saying that the movie would be shown digitally as the distributor is not shipping 35mm prints for the title. I’m wondering if that’s true…
I liked the restoration but was not happy with the quality of the digital projection (which I’ve had problems with before in the same theater).
Is anyone going to the showing in Tampa in August? I ammmm.
I’m still really curious about those who saw it regarding digital vs. an actual film print!
Herbie, I don’t think actual film prints exist of the Complete Metropolis. I saw it at a small theater in Muskegon MI and it was clearly a Blu-ray projection, which looked great. I recall reading somewhere that they didn’t make film prints, at least for general distribution, but I can’t find a reference.
It was in St. Louis last week. Can’t believe I missed it!
It was digital projection at Film Forum, and at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival where I saw it again a couple of weeks ago. It looked great all three times.
Saw it two nights ago and really dug it. The first time I tried watching Metropolis, it was a bad day and I ended up turning it off after 30 mins. Now, I went in with a clear head and, although a bit dated of course, it still held up remarkably well and I was able to become very interested in the story and really enjoyed myself.
Also, it should be noted that the picture was AMAZING at the theater I was at. Truly stunning, I can’t believe it looked so good for a 30’s film
Dude, it is a 20s film.
Thanks Dave and Roscoe, good to know. I couldn’t find a reference for that either, Dave, which is why it seemed so suspicious. Either way, I am still unhappy with the digital projection at that particular theater which ruined my viewing experience of Amer a week or two before.
Sorry, I was off by a few years
i saw it at cinema 21, portland ore
digital projection, which i was unaware of going in
but it was still stunning
I agree with much of what Roscoe says in his initial post. A lot of the additional footage is unnecessary and just stretches some scenes out a little too much, but there were a few longer sequences that were certainly worth while and added a little more to the story. The roles of the Thin man and Gregory become more significant and assuming the footage were in the same condition as the rest of the film, it would have made the film more consistently fluid, but seeing as how the new footage is so noticeably different it became a little distracting because I was constantly comparing how the film would work with and without it.