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The Invisible Man

Metropolis (1927)

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I am basically looking for input because I like this film a lot but I am extremely confused by it. Is this a serious religious film? I expected it to be somewhere in the ballpark of "Blade Runner" or "1984", and in some respects it is, but it also has many references to the book of Revelation and a sequence depicting the Tower of Babel. Thoughts? Opinions?

PS. I ran a search and there doesn't appear to be a thread on "Metropolis", but given this system's fickle nature I fully expect an "ahem" at this point.

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SDG   

FWIW, my review.

I wouldn't call it a "serious religious film," but I would call it a film that takes religious imagery seriously.

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Thank you for posting that, SDG. I appreciate it. The connection to "The Time Machine" had never occurred to me. I am still not clear though if the religious imagery actually adds up to anything serious, or if Lang just naively tossed it all in to give his film a little weight (i.e. pseudo-weight). If so, that seems a bit too easy to me, though it doesn't detract from his astonishing visuals, of course. I am rather partial to Lang's stuff, but I struggle with this seeming naivety in his work (the main villain's physical resemblance to Lenin in the James Bond-ish romp "Spione" being another case in point).

Edited by The Invisible Man

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Nearly 25 minutes of lost footage from the original cut of Metropolis, thought to be lost forever, have been found in a museum in Argentina.

The cult sci-fi classic, penned by Fritz Lang and his wife in 1924, was the most expensive film ever made in Germany when it bowed on Jan. 10, 1927.

After being poorly received, the UFA studio was eager to recoup some of its costs. It re-edited the film -- cutting 948 meters of footage, around 25% -- and re-released it to great acclaim eight months later.

However, in 1928 Adolfo Z. Wilson, the head of a Buenos Aires distrib named Terra, took a copy of the long version to Argentina.

The film changed hands several times and by 1992 had ended up in a collection at the Museo del Cine.

Earlier this year Paula Felix-Didier became the director of the museum. She discovered that the copy included nearly all of the long-lost scenes -- some 700 meters, 25 minutes -- and contacted Germany's Die Zeit magazine.

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Nearly 25 minutes of lost footage from the original cut of Metropolis, thought to be lost forever, have been found in a museum in Argentina.

Film historian David Kleingers at Spiegel Online:

Although the new material is in a terrible condition, according to the first appraisals by the German film historians, including Rainer Rother, the director of the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum in Berlin, the newly discovered scenes give a surprising insight into the characters' motivation. They finally give "Metropolis" a coherent story-telling rhythm, whose absence was often criticized. For example, characters who were practically extras in the shorter version, such as the spy Schmale or Josaphat, Freder's friend, actually had significant supporting roles and the original dramaturgical concept, which before could only be reconstructed using textual sources and photographs, is now apparent on film for the first time since 1927.

Also, more at Greencine.

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Restored 'Metropolis' to screen at Berlin

COLOGNE, Germany -- A restored version of Fritz Lang's original cut of his silent classic "Metropolis" will have its premiere Feb. 12, 2010 at the Friendrichtstadtpalast as part of the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.

Lang's science fiction opus premiered in its original 153-minute version at the Ufa Palast in Berlin Jan. 10, 1927. But it was a huge flop with audiences and critics at the time and was chopped down substantially. Much of the original footage disappeared and was thought lost forever.

Even the famed 2001 restored version of "Metropolis," which also premiered at the Berlin Festival, was a good half hour shorter than Lang's original.

But last year, an original 16-mm negative print, likely the last in existence, was discovered at the Museo del Cine Pablo in Buenos Aires. The Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation, together with broadcasters ZDF and art and Berlin film museum the Deutsche Kinemathek, have restored the film to its original form. . . .

Hollywood Reporter, October 29

- - -

One of the first dates I ever went on with my now-wife was to see the 2001 restoration of this film. (It didn't come to Vancouver until early 2003.) Good memories. And back then, we both lived only a few blocks from the cinematheque that showed it. I'd love to be able to see it with her again, but trips to the theatre ... let alone to downtown Vancouver theatres ... are not as frequent for us as they used to be.

BTW, will this new restored version necessarily run 153 minutes when it is actually screened? I ask because projectors today seem to be a little faster than they were in the 1920s; when I caught a handful of early Anna May Wong films at the cinematheque a few years ago, the action seemed to be somewhat speeded-up, and the films, as screened, were noticeably shorter than the running times listed in the program.

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rjkolb wrote:

: The live streaming has begun here. The film will start shortly.

Wait a minute... so we're not actually watching the film, we're watching people WATCH the film?

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Persona   

There's a Trailer up at Apple. I guess I assumed that meant it will eventually make its way to a new DVD.

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Tyler   

There's a Trailer up at Apple. I guess I assumed that meant it will eventually make its way to a new DVD.

According to Wikipedia, the restored METROPOLIS will get a DVD release in November.

Kino has an announcement about the DVD on their website, too.

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I've seen the latest restoration, and while it's certainly valuable as a piece of film scholarship, there's one major drawback. The newly discovered 16mm footage has eroded so badly that it stands out in sharp contrast with the rest of the film, so you're constantly aware of what's been added. And the film is still not complete. (Can we expect another restoration a few years down the road?)

Unless you're an absolute Metropolis fanatic, the 2002 restoration will probably suffice.

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Nathaniel, how did you see it?

It played for a few weeks in Los Angeles at various Laemmle theaters. They marketed it as "The Complete Metropolis," which is kinda misleading but sounds a lot better than "The Almost Complete Metropolis" or "The Essentially Complete Metropolis." There's really no call to "throw away your Metropolis DVD," as one overexcited critic recommended. :lol:

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But if you haven't yet purchased METROPOLIS, the new, more complete version is worth waiting for, yes?

Well, here's the thing. Mostly, the new footage lengthens scenes that already existed in the previous version. A shot here, a shot there. The only brand new scenes, if I remember correctly, have to do with the hulking henchman sent to spy on the main character, a fired lackey who attempts suicide, and a manual laborer who switches identities with the milquetoast hero. If you're a completist, you'll want to see those. But the earlier, 2002 restoration does not suffer from these missing pieces. In fact, it moves better. (Lang is a great director, but swift pacing was never one of his trademarks.) And then there's the distracting print quality issue, which unavoidably takes you out of the moment.

The problem would be solved, I think, if the new, not-yet-released DVD gives you the option of viewing the film with or without the latest additions. In which case I'd probably buy that one. :)

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Darren H   

I'm not sure why I put off seeing Metropolis for so long, but its recent nomination for the Top 100 and its arrival on Netflix streaming gave me the incentive to watch it this morning. That's my favorite thing about the Top 100 list, actually -- that it's encouraged me to see 30 or 40 films over the years that I might have overlooked, otherwise.

So I feel almost guilty for what I'm about to write, which is that after finally watching what might be the most recognized, most watched silent film of all, I honestly don't think it belongs on our list. My standard line on the Lord of the Rings films is that I like them just fine until the fellowship is formed (about 90 minutes into the first film, as I recall), at which point all of that wonderful world building is put into the service of one long action/battle sequence after another. With Metropolis, I felt like I was watching a LotR genesis story. In fact, I felt like I was watching the birth of a century's worth of a certain kind of action/adventure film.

To answer the question that began this thread three years ago, no, I can't take this film's religious ideas seriously. It certainly reveals a familiarity with apocalyptic Biblical imagery, but, at my least charitable, I'd argue they're used in the service of some seriously sketchy politics. This is the first time I've watched a UFA film and been so conscious of the fact that I was seeing images made at the birth of fascism. Which is not to say that I think this is an explicitly fascist film, but the final scene, in which the "mind" and "body" are brought together by the "heart" is the kind of sentimental, simplistic, symbol-laden rhetoric that fuels fascist discourse.

I would love to see more silent films in our list, but I can think of four or five films each by Murnau, Ford, Borzage, Keaton, and Chaplin that I'd put ahead of Metropolis.

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