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Oct 23

Metropolis

Fritz Lang’s 1925 classic, Metropolis, is a masterpiece of German expressionist cinema. While some of the acting, particularly that of the hero, may look a little theatrical and over the top today, the sheer scale of the production cannot be denied. Better yet, the impressive performance by Brigitte Helm as both heroine Maria and the villainous robot, marked her out as a future star. (Sadly, when they attempted to cast her in horror classic The Bride Of Frankenstein, she refused to travel to America, and retired to Switzerland to escape Hitler, never to even talk about her film career again.)

The most expensive silent movie ever produced, using over 37,000 extras and costing $2M US in 1920s money, it took a staggering sixteen months to film, and was released in 1927 with German intertitles, which were even animated – a sign of the attention to detail the film’s producers, UFA, took with the production. Sadly, by the time it was released, sound films were starting to become popular, and cinemas were unwilling to show films longer than 90 minutes. As a result, few saw the intended version of Metropolis – projected at 24, instead of 16 frames per second, and suffering nearly an hour of cuts, it was panned by notable critics including H G Wells, and nearly bankrupted the studio.

With the discovery of an almost complete print in Argentina, however, and another in New Zealand, restoration work began in 2005 to bring Metropolis back to its former glory. With this work complete – and the resulting version, complete with orchestral recording of its intended original soundtrack, playing in cinemas – now’s the time (if you can’t get to see the restored version) to get hold of some of the older, public domain, versions of this classic.

You can download a 117 minute version, or a 95 minute edited version, taken from a VHS tape, from the Internet Archive.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the film rated by Empire Magazine as 12th best in the world.

1 comment

1 ping

  1. avatar
    Madie Mehalko

    Cheers, this really works for my research.

  1. avatar
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