Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) | Reconstructed. Restored. The visionary sci-fi is now complete!
Metropolis is without doubt the most iconic of all German films and marks the birth of science fiction on the silver screen. Much discussed, analysed and a major influence on nearly every sci-fi since it first dazzled audiences back in 1927, it was also director Fritz Lang’s masterwork.
‘There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator’
Set in a dystopian future in which society is divided into two classes: workers who live in vast catacombs and managers who live in huge skyscrapers, the film centres on Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), the son of the ruler of Metropolis (Alfred Abel), who swaps lives with a worker after witnessing a terrible accident in the workers’ city. While toiling away underground, he falls for the beautiful Maria (Brigitte Helm) who seems to have a powerful influence over the workers. When plans of a rebellion are discovered, Freder’s father enlists the services of an inventor called Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) to build a Maria-replica robot to incite the workers into a self-destructive riot. But when disaster strikes and the underground city becomes flooded, it’s a race against time for Freder to rescue Maria and the city’s children.
Last seen at cinemas in a colourised version with a rock score by Giorgio Moroder back in 1984, Metropolis was given a theatrical re-release in 2010 following its restoration in which some extra 25 minutes of footage, previously thought lost, were added back to the film. Finally audiences could see Lang’s film the way the director had always intended. A new symphony recording of the original score was also arranged, breathing new life into the all-time classic.
Seeing it on the big screen, you cannot help but gasp at Lang’s futuristic cityscape. It still impresses, as do the action sequences – which are surprisingly modern for the time, especially the scenes in which Maria is chased through the catacombs, the children try to escape their watery grave, and the robotic Maria is burned at the stake. Iconic stuff indeed!
The acting may not be naturalistic, but it’s very emotive, and Brigitte Helm’s blinking really does pierce your soul. The once missing bits are very damaged, but show exactly how much of Lang’s original vision was cut on its original release, including Freder’s surreal nightmare on seeing Maria with his father, and a much enlarged story involving the characters Georgy 11811 and Joh’s henchman, the Thin Man.
Surrealist film-maker Luis Buñuel certainly hit the nail on the head when he called Metropolis ‘a captivating symphony of movement’ as its a masterclass in story, editing and design, and still manages to knock the socks off today’s CGI blockbusters (excluding Gravity and Interstellar of course).
THE UK HOME CINEMA RELEASES
Following it’s theatrical screening in 2010, the reconstructed Metropolis was given a dual format (Blu-ray/DVD) release in the UK by Eureka! Entertainment, as part of their Masters of Cinema Series. Now, Lang’s masterpiece will be re-released in a two-disc limited edition (4000 copies only) Steelbook Blu-ray set (out on 19 January 2015), which will include Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 version and a 45-min documentary exploring the film’s rediscovery. If, like me, you already own the dual format, the cover alone and the inclusion of the Moroder film is double dip tempting.
• Available to pre-order from Amazon now http://amzn.to/1zzbc6K
Posted on December 5, 2014, in Cult classic, Must See, Must-See, Sci-Fi and tagged 1920s sci-fi, Blu-ray release, Brigitte Helm, Cult classic, Eureka Entertainment, Fritz Lang, Giorgio Moroder, Masters of Cinema Series, Metropolis, Must See, Sci-Fi. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.