Review - Metropolis (1927) (DVD-2002)
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Metropolis (1927) (Theatrical/DVD-2002)

Kino International Video

Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski


Fritz Lang’s silent film classic Metropolis has been definitively restored to near perfection in a new set of film prints slowly making their way across the United States. 


If you have never seen Metropolis before, or, even if you have seen it many times, this is a presentation which is not to be missed.


Lang’s super production of Metropolis took an unheard-of seventeen months to shoot in mid- 1920’s Germany, and it featured incredible sets, bravura art direction and highly advanced special effects.  Set one-hundred years in the future, it depicted a super city filled with class struggle, corruption, runaway technology, decadence, passion, and modern science vs. occultism.


A commerial failure when it premiered in Berlin in 1927 due to its enormous cost (Lang had set out to make the costliest and most ambitious picture ever) it generated both acclaim and controversy.  For its U.S. premiere, American distributors cut its length by nearly an hour.  Once other countries picked up this garbled version of the film, Lang would remark that his film no longer existed.


Since then, various incomplete versions of varying lengths have surfaced including the controversial and commercially successful Georgio Moroder recutting which included a rock music score. 


Metropolis has influenced many great filmmakers including Spielberg, Lucas and Kubrick, yet no coherent version of the film has existed before now.


Kino International has compiled the ultimate Metropolis—struck from the original nitrate camera negative and nitrate prints from around the world.  Each frame of the film has received state of the art digital restoration.  Thirty minutes of unseen footage have been added.  And the discoveries of the shooting script and archival intertitles have resulted in the resolution of story section conflicts.


The resultant film is incredible and stunning—it has to be seen to be believed—unparalleled clarity, detail and stability.  The addition of Gottfried Huppertz’s original 1927 orchestral score, newly recorded, which is playing even as I speak, adds dynamism not heard since the film’s original premiere!


Kino Films' version of Fritz Lang’s masterpiece reveals a film undiminished by the passage of seventy-five years and transports to viewer back to its premiere.  It is rapidly becoming the cinematic event of 2002.  To see Metropolis is to experience just how powerful the cinematic experience can be. 





Metropolis Follow-Up DVD Review (talking points; hear MP3 for full discussion)



Tim:  So Dennis, that’s what you thought when the film was showing in theatres around the country.  Now that print of the film has been released on DVD.  What do you think of the DVD?


There are just two words for this DVD – absolutely stunning.


- Film looks like it was shot yesterday – and they began filming in 1925


- Greater restoration than Citizen Kane was which was previous champ.


- Reasons:

  1. No complete negative
  2. damaged negative
  3. all kinds of different version, differently-edited versions, garbled stories
  4. 25% of film still missing


- Had to be re-edited and reassembled for DVD


- Made possible by:

  discovering the original screenplay

  discovering the title cards registered with the German Censor Bureau

  discovering the cues in the original music score

So they were able to recreate the best version possible


- Also, they opted for digital restoration—which is risky because you can lose picture information


- They essentially did by hand digital restoration


- Disc includes a fine documentary on making of film revealing how effects were accomplished

- A super digital restoration feature

- A terrific commentary

- Lost scenes information, costumes sketches, architectural sketches, etc., etc.


What supports what we thought about the magnificence of the restoration when we saw at Towne Theatre is fact that Metropolis chosen for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register (which also includes things like the score for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony)


- A must-get DVD and video


- Kino Video’s Restored Authorized Edition


- If you can’t find it, go to www.kino.com


Tim:  Okay, Celluloid Dreams correspondent Dennis Kwiatkowski on the DVD release of the restored masterwork, Metropolis.


2002 Dennis Kwiatkowski/Celluloid Dreams



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