Metropolis - Fritz Lang

Metropolis was directed by Fritz Lang and, as a black and white silent film from 1927, had HUGE impacts on filmmakers for decades to come. The tale was of a large city with two classes. There was the elite class that lived above ground, enjoying the fresh air and gardens. Then there was the working class that lived in tightly-packed apartment buildings below ground. You can find this same theme in hundreds of movies afterwards that were influenced by Metropolis.

What's amazing is that the movie was lost for pretty much the entire time between its release and 2003. Viewers in those years had to make do with bits and pieces of the movie, often with giant gaps in the storyline. This re-release is the result of years of work, where film historians painstakingly went through all sources they could find and cobbled together a version complete with storyboards where gaps were large. For the first time in almost 80 years, viewers can get a sense of what the original story was all about.

The musical score is great, and the storyline is classic. The young man of the elite class falls in love with the young worker woman. There is great strife as the boy's family tries to keep them apart and keep the workers down. The workers believe in prophecies that say they will find a way out of their desolation. The elite believe that their 'golden rule' will last forever. In the middle, a mad scientist believes he has created a robotic woman to keep him happy without any need of human interaction.

There are some minor gripes even with this restored version - the motion is often speeded up, when all notes of the original story indicate that the director deliberately made scenes go slowly to give them importance. This is a German movie, but everything has been done in English so you can't really appreciate its true roots. But even so, this is a stellar achievement and one that can be built on going forward. Kudos so the restoration team!


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