By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 6, 2010 at 10:14AM
If you've seen Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi masterwork Metropolis, you know that it's not only one of the great movies ever made, but also among the most influential. Its DNA is all over subsequent sci-fi flicks from Blade Runner to The Matrix. Now Kino is releasing the restored 147-minute The Complete Metropolis--with 25 extra minutes of footage and the original Gottfried Huppertz score--that debuted at the Berlin Film Festival.
The new version will launch in the US on April 25 at Grauman's Chinese as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival, followed by major markets including New York (May 7) and LA (May 14). The DVD/Blu-Ray comes out in November.
Details of Metropolis cuts and restorations and trailer are below.
CUTS AND MAJOR RESTORATIONS:
When it was first screened in Berlin on January 10, 1927, the sci-fi epic ran an estimated 153 minutes. After its premiere engagement, in an effort to maximize the film's commercial potential, the film's distributors (Ufa in Germany, Paramount in the U.S.) drastically shortened METROPOLIS, which had been a major disappointment at the German box office.
By the time it debuted in the states latter that year, the film ran approximately 90 minutes (exact running times are difficult to determine because silent films were not always projected at a standardized speed).
METROPOLIS went on to become one of the cornerstones of science fiction cinema foreshadowing BLADE RUNNER and THE MATRIX to name just a few recent examples. Testament to its enduring popularity, the film has undergone numerous restorations in the intervening decades.
In 1984, the film was reissued with additional footage, color tints, and a pop rock score (but with many of its intertitles removed) by music producer Giorgio Moroder. A more archival restoration was completed in 1987, under the direction of Enno Patalas of the Munich Film Archive, in which missing scenes were represented with title cards and still photographs. More recently, the 2001 restoration combined footage from four archives and ran at a triumphant 124 minutes. It was widely believed that this would be the most complete version of Lang's film that contemporary audiences could ever hope to see.
But, in the summer of 2008, the curator of the Buenos Aires Museo del Cine discovered a 16mm dupe negative that was considerably longer than any existing print. It included not merely a few additional snippets, but 25 minutes of "lost" footage, about a fifth of the film, that had not been seen since its Berlin debut. The discovery of such a significant amount of material called for yet another restoration.
This was executed by Anke Wilkening of the Murnau Stiftung (Foundation), the German institution that is the caretaker of virtually all pre 1945 German films, Martin Koerber Film Department Curator of the Deutche Kinemateque and on the music side, by Frank Stoebel.
The result of their work was first seen by the public on February 12 at the 1600 seat Friederichstrasse Palaste, accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra playing the original 1927 score by Huppertz. The public and critical response was ecstatic.
Regarding the quality of the added footage Ms. Wilkening has said: "The work on the restoration teaches us once more that no restoration is ever definitive," says Wilkening, "Even if we are allowed for the first time to come as close to the first release as ever before, the new version will still remain an approach. The rediscovered sections which change the film's composition, will at the same time always be recognizable through their damages as those parts that had been lost for 80 years."
Further information on THE COMPLETE METROPOLIS and annotations of all recovered scenes - as well as images, clips and theatrical playdates - will be uploaded to the new Metropolis website, which goes live on April 15.