Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Restored Version of Metropolis

In the 1920s, during the German expressionist period, classic cinema like The Cabinet of Dr, Caligari, Nosferatu, The Golem, and M brought a new usage of set design enhance the mood each film needed to tell its tale. The most famous of the films of this period was Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Metropolis is a love story set against the backdrop of a man vs. machine and man vs. man story. Two classes exist in the post-modern world of Metropolis; the pampered ruling class and the toiling working class. The two classes must never meet! Maria, a girl from the underground working class finds her way into the Eternal Gardens of the ruling class and is noticed by Freder, a young member of the ruling class, before she can be spirited away. Freder becomes infatuated with Maria and follows her to the underbelly of his society and witnesses a tragedy kills many of the workers and no one cares about them only the machine they service. He becomes so distraught by this that he takes action to improve the workers conditions. This doesn't sit to kindly with his father, who has a robot built looking exactly like Maria to distract and discredit his son.

Metropolis is a 1927 film directed by Fritz Lang. It was produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic (before Adolf Hitler's ascension to power), Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and owners in a capitalist society. The film was produced in the Babelsberg Studios by Universum Film A.G. (UFA) and was the most expensive silent film ever made.

Metropolis was cut after it German premiere and many times after that, with much of the footage being presumed lost. After many attempts to restore the film to its original vision, a print was found in Argentina that contained 30 minutes of footage not seen in decades. The original running time was 153 minutes when it was released in 1927. The newly discovered version was announced to be missing only a few scenes but it was in deplorable condition. It currently has a running time of 149 minutes, very close to its original length, especially when you consider the hand cranking system used in the 1920s.

This newly restored version of Metropolis will be shown on Turner Classic Movies Sunday Novermber 7th at 7PM. This is probably a great way to wind down from either of the conventions that were held that weekend; AnimeNebrasKon or Icon.

OSFest is working on an independent film festival this year. I have details as soon as they are sured up.

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