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Lost original version of "Metropolis" found

 
 
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 10:53 am
Missing scenes from Fritz Lang's Metropolis turn up after 80 years[/size]

The cinematic world was today celebrating the rediscovery of missing scenes from German director Fritz Lang's legendary silent film Metropolis - thought lost for 80 years, until they were found in the archive of a museum in Argentina.

Key scenes cut from the science fiction picture - either because they were considered to be too brutal or too long - will now be available for the first time since May 1927, when the original version was last shown in Berlin, where it flopped badly.

The head of the Berlin film museum Deutsche Kinematik, Dr Rainer Rother, called the find a "sensational discovery", adding that one of the most famous films of all time "can now be seen through new eyes".

Metropolis, which is set in a futuristic city state and explores the clash between workers and their capitalist exploiters, was at the time one of the most expensive films ever made. Produced in the Babelsberg studios on the outskirts of Berlin, it cost around 7m Reichsmarks, but was hated by critics and the public alike. It was shortened by the American company Paramount Pictures, who considered it impenetrable for the US market, leading to an oversimplification of the plot, the disappearance of key scenes and the sidelining of significant characters.

But the restored version, which has so far been seen by only a handful of film experts and critics in Berlin, is said to throw light on key questions that have puzzled and tantalised generations of film buffs.

The uncut version is said to solve the mystery as to why Maria, the workers' insurrectionist leader, is mistaken by a baying mob for her doppelganger, a female robot.

Schmale, a spy who is sent by the autocratic leader of the futuristic city, Joh Frederson, to pursue his son, Freder, plays a minor role in the cut version, but a significant supporting role in the original. "The role ... can finally be understood," Rother said.

A scene in which children are saved from the workers' underworld is also said to be "much more dramatic" - and more violent - than in the cut version.

The rediscovery, revealed by the newspaper Die Zeit, came to light after Paula Felix-Didier, curator of Buenos Aires' Museo del Cine, acted on a tip-off from a former film club director that the full-length version had been gathering dust in the museum's archive since the early 90s. Fearing that the discovery would not be taken seriously in Argentina, she flew with the footage to Germany this week to present the film to experts who have deemed it to be authentic.

Die Zeit has reconstructed the story of how the film found its way to Argentina. A copy of the longer version of the film was first sent to Buenos Aires in 1928 at the request of the Terra film distribution company. A film critic called Manuel Pena Rodriquez obtained the reels shortly afterwards, selling them in the 60s to Argentina's National Art Fund. A copy of them was passed onto the Museo del Cine in 1992, but their value was not fully realised until now.

Helmut Possman, director of the Friedrich-Wilhelm Murnau Foundation which holds the rights to Metropolis, said the film, which is badly scratched, would be made available to the public after it has been restored. "This material, which we had long considered to be lost forever, will help us to a new understanding of Fritz Lang's masterpiece," he said.

Martin Köerber, who restored a previous version of Metropolis, expressed his delight at the new footage.

He told Die Zeit: "It doesn't matter how bad the condition of the material is, the original intention of the film, including all of its minor characters and subplots, is now once again tangible for viewers. The rhythm of the film has been restored."

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Anyone who has seen the Murnau-Stiftung "restored" version of Metropolis knows just how mangled the cut version is. There are a lot of plot holes that don't make a lot of sense in the context of the story. As the article notes, Schmale, the spy hired by Frederson to tail his son, essentially disappears from the film almost as soon as he is sent on his mission. The "restored" version uses intertitles and production stills to flesh out much of the story -- an unsatisfactory arrangement but the only solution to the problem of the lost footage. But now that the footage has been found, and it looks like the film placed will be placed in the hands of the Murnau-Stiftung, we can finally expect to see a fully restored version of this classic in the not-too-distant future.

One wonders how many other lost silent films are still waiting to be discovered in somebody's cellar or in a forgotten corner of an archive. London After Midnight maybe? Or Theda Bara's Cleopatra? As IMDb says, "check your attic."
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,266 • Replies: 24
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 10:55 am
cool
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:03 am
Great. I have long been worried that too many old films are no longer available.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:05 am
Fantastic...

I saw Metropolis in the seventies and forget a lot. Would love to see the restored version.
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:14 am
I was at the original showing.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:17 am
Weren't you one of the actors?
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:42 am
nice, i've seen the movie about 10 times

looking forward to a full uncut version
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:42 am
ossobuco wrote:
Weren't you one of the actors?


I don't think so.

It's been a while. Maybe.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:58 am
oh gus, don't be modest.

you were that guy that had the job of working the levers.

What the hell was it you were trying to acomplish?

http://www.theglitteringeye.com/images/metropolis-worker.png
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:58 am
didn't you also play the baby in eraserhead?
0 Replies
 
Stray Cat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 11:59 am
Quote:
I was at the original showing.


I'm not surprised, Gus. You socialist, you.
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 12:00 pm
I have been around, Chai. Do you derive pleasure from disclosing my age?
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 12:01 pm
Back off, Stray Cat. I'm not in the mood.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 12:10 pm
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
I have been around, Chai. Do you derive pleasure from disclosing my age?



You haven't aged well.

http://msp50.photobucket.com/albums/f321/stingreiy/eraserhead.jpg
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 12:13 pm
I hate you.

You slut.
0 Replies
 
Stray Cat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 12:15 pm
It's ok, Gus. You're still an American. That's something, at least.

Coz' if there's anything worse than an American socialist, it would have to be a European socialist.






http://www.mytshirtdesigns.com/images/uploads/20070415204740.jpg

(I hope this pisses them off)
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 12:22 pm
Long live the patriotic cats! Wave that flag, Stray Cat!!

You are just so cool. So very, very cool.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 12:49 pm
edgarblythe wrote:
Great. I have long been worried that too many old films are no longer available.

It's unknown how many silent films have been lost, since we don't even know how many were made: it could be that as much as 75 to 80 percent of all silents are lost forever. Despite years of neglect and the volatility of the nitrate film stock, these movies still occasionally pop up. Eight silent shorts, for instance, were recently found in Australia. Here's a partial list of "lost" films that were rediscovered.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 01:21 pm
Cool beans, Joe . . . thanks for this thread. I've always loved that film, and now i'm eager to understand it better, especially why the mob attacks Maria.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2008 01:36 pm
Good to know some are being rescued. I first became aware of the problem when reading up on Tom Mix, quite a few years back. A book or article mentiond that all of his best films were lost, and only a few poor ones remain.
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