#13 Metropolis (dir: Fritz Lang, 1927)
It is often forgotten what a gigantic contribution director Fritz Lang made to the sci-fi genre. Metropolis is 85 years old this year and still fascinates filmgoers and students alike. In some ways it represents the zenith of Weimar Germany picture-making, in the days when Germany rivalled Hollywood. Lang also made The Woman in the Moon (1929), another sci-fi picture which introduced the now famous countdown before a launch. That is something that spilled into real life. (A little pop trivia factoid for you there).
A few years ago, in an Argentinian film archive (Museo del Cine), the most complete version of the film was found on a 16mm print. Before this a print in New Zealand was found with scenes missing from other prints. Even two scenes were in such a bad state they could not be saved. Two years ago Eureka Entertainment restored the print and unleashed it onto the world and we all loved it. The original cut of the movie was considered lost and Lang said so himself back in the 1960s. One does wonder what he’d make of the restored print and the fact it was found in South America collecting dust and rotting…
Metropolis is packed with iconic moments and shots. When the Mensch Maschine stirs and walks one can exclaim “The modern sci-fi movie cometh!” One sees the influence of Metropolis in all sorts of sci-fi films to this very day. The giant city with its endless stretches of elevated highways and constant flood of traffic is copied all the time. The plot and message of Metropolis might be a bit corny for today’s audience, but what still impresses his Lang’s vision and giant canvas on which he makes his film. The camera style is pretty basic yet the long shots – showing off those incredible set designs – still achieve a sense of grandeur and awe.
The print found in Argentina included excised scenes not seen for over eighty years and today audiences can enjoy the closest possible vision Lang and his team originally envisioned. However, like many of my generation, the first introduction to Metropolis came through Giorgio Moroder’s much-maligned re-edit with an electo-pop soundtrack. Whilst that has a certain charm, go for the recent restoration and watch an incredible silent picture that speaks volumes on artistry and imagination.
The Top Twenty Films Challenge is an inter-blog daily feature between myself and Laurent di Alberti at FilmLand Empire blog. Each of us will reveal our Top 20 favourite films. On Tuesday 26th Laurent named Tony Scott’s The Hunger as his number 14. For the other Cinemart entries click here: Top Twenty Films Challenge.
The Top Twenty Films Challenge is an inter-blog daily feature between myself and Laurent di Alberti at FilmLand Empire blog. Each of us will reveal our Top 20 favourite films. On Thursday 28th Laurent named Todd Solondz’s Happiness as his number 13. For the other Cinemart entries click here: Top Twenty Films Challenge.