Movie News

Rotwang takes a look at the new print of METROPOLIS!

Published at: July 18, 2010, 5:43 p.m. CST by headgeek

Hey folks, Harry here ... When Rotwang sent this in, it kind of made me laugh as I had just been exchanging email with Peter Jackson about Maria from METROPOLIS and had just sent Peter the following image:

Forrest J Ackerman and some German Floozie in bed together! on Twitpic


That's an old Postcard that Forry sent me, but I have to say - Fandom's interest in this print of METROPOLIS really does my heart good. Because this is a real big deal. I love this film, when I was on the AEON FLUX set - which was housed in the same building in which METROPOLIS was shot... It boggled my mind. During the lunch break, I stayed on set... which was completely empty and just stared up into exquisite wooden rafters and let my mind dream of what was seen from above. Dreaming of the missing footage and hoping that I would live to see it. And here we are. Now, if we can just find LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT...

Hey, Harry - I don't know if you're looking for any more reports on the restored Metropolis, but I was lucky enough to see it last night in the Castro Theatre presentation. I'm a longtime fan of the film and have seen everything from the Murnau restoration to a crappy VHS copy from the 1980s that was white screen with a few faded shadows in most places. Oh, and of course the Moroder version, for all its flaws. I don't know if you've seen this yet, but here are some details that can only come from a theater seat... The presentation is magnificent, everything a movie of this scale and importance should be. Since it uses the Murnau restoration as the base, 3/4 of the film is clear and sharp and outstanding. The material taken from the Buenos Aires film was both in very poor condition and slightly reduced in frame by the 16mm transfer, so those inserts are both very grainy (vertically streaked, a bit Star Trek-y somehow) and surrounded by a black border of maybe 1/20th the frame size. It's very watchable, even if some parts are as blurry as an old B&W TV. Some inserts are just a frame or two, some are a few seconds long, and a few seem to be several minutes long. Most are perhaps ten seconds. It's a huge thrill to see these additions pop into well-known sequences. As much as I'd like to see them as clear and wonderful as the Murnau material, it's great to be able to know it's new material and be able to adjust your thinking on the fly. I am not certain how much the previously existing material has been rearranged (re-rearranged?) around the new inserts, but I had the sense that some familiar shots and scenes were far out of place from where I was used to them. In any case, this is the first time, ever, in at least a dozen full viewings of good versions, that the sweep and flow of the story was uninterrupted and needed no help from my underlying knowledge of the story and characters. It simply flowed across the screen, smooth and powerful and magnificent, and I could watch it like any other film, not needing to keep referring to a mental script to try and make sense of things. There are only two missing sequences now, the monk preaching to Freder about the whore of Babylon (which is repeated, with the Thin Man in the monk's place, later, and gives you an idea of what the missing footage looks like), and the fight between Joh Fredersen and Rotwang (of which a few tag ends remain as well). Neither interruption ruins the flow of the film at all. I simply can't wait for my Blu-Ray copy this Christmas... and I have worn out my attempts to thank my wife, who took my long-lead request for the disc and surprised me with tickets to this showing within striking distance of home, and gave me an evening of overpowering magnificence not even the biggest plasma can deliver - seeing this on a big screen, with 3000 people and a live orchestra was... overwhelming. Everything about this event will stick in my mind for a long, long time. Oh, the score: performed live by the Alloy Orchestra and simply fantastic. I was unsure how an avant-garde "junk" orchestra would handle this, but from the opening notes on (I think) a musical saw to the thunderous junk-pounding that accompanied the final 20 minutes of the film, it was an equal partner to what was on the screen. At the conclusion, the audience was told that the Alloy score was selected by Kino as an alternate (to the original score performed by a large orchestra) on the forthcoming disc. The roar practically blew the gilt off the Castro's interior decorations, and I was delighted I would get to hear it again. You know the scene at the end of Dark City, when John takes on the most powerful of the Visitors? That thunderous, overwhelming score? That's like what Alloy does - but it goes on and on for the entire end of the film, from the time the false Maria is exhorting the workers to riot until Rotwang falls to his death. Insanely powerful stuff for twenty, twenty-five minutes and you're left limp and exhausted for the final scene. I don't usually say things like this, but I am overwhelmingly glad to have lived long enough to see this restoration found, completed and presented. It's nothing less than one of humanity's greatest treasures and I'm richer for having finally seen it. If this is of any use, sign me C.A. Rotwang.

Readers Talkback

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  • July 18, 2010, 5:46 p.m. CST

    Who are the ad wizards...

    by wampa 1

    ...that came up with this one?

  • July 18, 2010, 6:02 p.m. CST

    What are the Blu-ray release details and extras?

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

  • July 18, 2010, 6:07 p.m. CST

    9/11 was an inside job

    by Spazatronik_2000

    Infowars.com

  • July 18, 2010, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Rotwang.

    by cookylamoo

    Best villain name ever.

  • July 18, 2010, 6:15 p.m. CST

    Shit film

    by Judge_Dredd

  • July 18, 2010, 6:19 p.m. CST

    I know a guy who had a case of Wang Rot

    by BetterCallSaul

    I heard it wasn't pretty.

  • July 18, 2010, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Rotwang in German actually means

    by Jardinier

    "red cheek." I.e. "Blush." Which is still kinda awesome, but also kinda gay ;).

  • July 18, 2010, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Film Forum

    by TrainWreck1969

    I'm just waiting to buy the Blu-ray. I had the chance to see the restored print at Film Forum in NYC. The physical layout of that plae just blows. HD from projection screen at home is bigger. Also the seats are mor comfortable. I wish this had gotten into a few larger theaters in the suburbs, or Fathom Events had sponsored a night of this. Oj well, I am assuming we can all purchase the Blu-ray by Christmas.

  • July 18, 2010, 6:46 p.m. CST

    Ah, finally....

    by oneblood

  • July 18, 2010, 7:19 p.m. CST

    This is such a great find

    by Klytus_I.m_Bored

    I am a member of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) and I'm very proud to be friends with the archivists who found this print. AMIA put money and time towards helping underserved parts of the world preserve their moving image materials and this is one of the fruits of that labor. Very exciting!

  • July 18, 2010, 7:20 p.m. CST

    I guess I didn't actually mean "print"

    by Klytus_I.m_Bored

    I meant "prints that were combined with extant materials to create this release."

  • July 18, 2010, 7:25 p.m. CST

    Can't wait for this on bluray!

    by darthwaz1

    and yes, 9/11 was an inside job.

  • July 18, 2010, 7:33 p.m. CST

    "undeserved parts of the world????"

    by oneblood

  • July 18, 2010, 7:58 p.m. CST

    It's pronounced; "ROTVANG" with a V

    by Droogie Alex

  • July 18, 2010, 8:05 p.m. CST

    I tried watching this one

    by YackBacker

    It didn't take.

  • July 18, 2010, 8:20 p.m. CST

    That's funny, because I just called Peter Jackson up...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...crying.<P> No particular reason...we just call each other when we need a good cry.

  • July 18, 2010, 8:24 p.m. CST

    ...and I look forward to seeing this.

    by FlickaPoo

  • July 18, 2010, 8:42 p.m. CST

    Superman returns was an inside job

    by ORIONgods

    infowars.com

  • July 18, 2010, 9:24 p.m. CST

    Actually Rotwang is pronounced . . .

    by Ivan Alexeev

  • July 18, 2010, 9:25 p.m. CST

    It's a silent movie, you see.

    by Ivan Alexeev

  • July 18, 2010, 9:42 p.m. CST

    YackBacker... me too

    by MurderMostFowl

    Metropolis is historically important, but in every other aspect of cinema ... slightly disappointing and more than slightly boring. I'm not knocking it, but you've got to see it through the historic eye... kind of like Battleship Potemkin. You appreciate that it has value and at times is interesting, at times impressive, but we all *want* to like it far more than we inevitably do.

  • July 18, 2010, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Don't trip over that name you just dropped, Harry

    by alienindisguise

    It does seem people have a hard time seeing Metropolis as a boring movie. Great story, great visuals but it just drags its ass.

  • July 18, 2010, 10:30 p.m. CST

    Also leaves out good parts of the Novel.

    by cookylamoo

    Like the worker who tends the Pater Noster machine.

  • July 18, 2010, 10:39 p.m. CST

    Hey Rotwang...

    by Grendy

    That review was great, and actually brought a little tear to my eyes. I just got back from Cinema Church where this weeks' sermon was called INCEPTION. I have loved METROPOLIS since I was about 14 or so, and my brother got the cassette of Moroder's score/soundtrack and played the hell out of it. I was able to find a VHS copy at a store somewhere about that time, and watched it. I saw it on screen at BNAT a few years ago, and it was the Moroder score. So, being able to see it with a new and approved score like the one you saw makes me grin like a fool. I only hope it comes to Atlanta to the Fox Theatre so I can see it with 5000 of cinephiles. Tell your wife thanks for me too, since you wrote such a nice piece. Us girls who like movies like this gotta stick together.

  • July 18, 2010, 10:41 p.m. CST

    and Murdermostfowl...

    by Grendy

    My brother got me a copy of Potemkin on dvd a few xmass' ago. The rest of the family went :HUH? -- about it while I was totally stoked. He'd bought himself a copy too, so he's not have to borrow mine. Good brother.

  • July 19, 2010, midnight CST

    Saw this in Cleveland back in April...

    by Monroville

    Looks fantastic (other than the extended scenes, which did not stand out as too bad in comparison other than the overlay of dirt on the ES scenes), which should translate well to blu later this year. I still prefer Moroder's version, but this version is still worth the watch.

  • July 19, 2010, 12:09 a.m. CST

    Saw this in Portland last week

    by Bob Loblaw Law Blog

    Absolutely amazing. It truly is an epic experience, just for the historical elements (I dig the story too, but I understand the gripes). <p> The one thing that I found odd was that a few people after the screening commented afterward that it was too long. WTF? It's 83 years old with 25 extra minutes... didn't really expect anyone to be surprised by the length. I was enthralled the whole time.

  • July 19, 2010, 12:47 a.m. CST

    Why don't you just link to Roger Ebert's review?

    by Bronx Cheer

    This has been covered so well so long ago.

  • July 19, 2010, 1:42 a.m. CST

    DARK CITY MUSIC.

    by The_Genteel_Gentile

    It's funny, I actually attempted with some success to edit a version of Metropolis exclusively using a complete bootleg of Trevor Jones' score from Dark City a few years ago. <p> The movie took on whole new dimensions of dark tragedy and creepiness. It was pretty epic I have to say.

  • July 19, 2010, 1:49 a.m. CST

    Call me the "bad guy" but...

    by The_Genteel_Gentile

    I've always wished they'd make new sound version DVD's of classic silent films. You know, bring in voice actors and foley artist and what not. I mean you always see the actor mouthing the words anyway, then you have to set there and read what was said for five seconds afterward. I know blaspheme right? I still think it's a good idea.

  • July 19, 2010, 2:08 a.m. CST

    Dammit - you should add SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by JonChambers

  • July 19, 2010, 3:21 a.m. CST

    9/11 WAS Indeed an Inside Job...

    by The Dreaded Rear Admiral

    Nineteen terrorists INSIDE 4 jumbo jets flew them INSIDE the WTC, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Which is worse: Truthers or Birthers?

  • July 19, 2010, 3:23 a.m. CST

    Jeff Mills Metropolis soundtrack

    by digital_soul

    I saw a print of Metropolis in London many years ago, introduced by Jeff Mills and played with his soundtrack over the top. Best version of the film Ive ever seen. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Metropolis-Jeff-Mills/dp/B00004Z52I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1279527302&sr=1-1

  • July 19, 2010, 3:28 a.m. CST

    This was at the Castro???

    by gotilk

    And I was probably in town that night. Grrr.

  • July 19, 2010, 3:59 a.m. CST

    Watched Potemkin the other night

    by white_vader

    The restoration on Blu-ray. Boring my arse. I actually found it hard to believe how it clicked along, especially the Odessa sequence which does things they wouldn't do even now (even Untouchables didn't go that far with it's homage). Pretty amazing (I'd never seen the whole thing).

  • July 19, 2010, 11:10 a.m. CST

    Peter Jackson told me ...

    by MyGodItsFullOfStars

    ... that 9/11 was an inside job, mastered by Kino and the Murnau restoration people, for the purpose of getting us interested in buying the 2002 restoration of "Metropolis." The attempted Christmas underwear bombing was intended to get us interested in the 2010 restoration. Some of the restored frames display the term "Allah Akbar" and are being used to brainwash the audience. Also, the Haitian earthquake was an inside job.

  • July 19, 2010, 11:28 a.m. CST

    Let's take all the truthers and birthers

    by Sonny_Williams

    put 'em in 2 jumbo jets, and fly 'em into Rush Lameball's and Alex Jone's studios! Problem solved.

  • July 19, 2010, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Now if only we can find the preview cut of

    by Samuel Fulmer

    Orson Welle's The Magnificent Ambersons, or heck even a decent region one DVD release of the 88 minute release version.

  • July 19, 2010, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Freddy Got Fingered was an inside Job!!!!!!!

    by Samuel Fulmer

  • July 19, 2010, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Potemkin Worshipers Unite!

    by MyGodItsFullOfStars

    I once attended a film-related college class that included screenings of the following: Battleship Potemkin, La Dolce Vita, Alphaville, Scorpio Rising, Red Desert, Jules et Jim, and an Arthur Penn movie whose title I can't remember. Potemkin blew the rest of 'em out of the water. DePalma's "homage" was pathetic. Even Metropolis, in whatever restored form you can think of, bores me to tears compared to Potemkin.

  • July 19, 2010, 2:34 p.m. CST

    some inserts are a frame or two??

    by Raymond Shaw

    "Some inserts are just a frame or two, " I doubt that. That's about 1/10 of a second? That would either be unnoticeable or distracting.

  • July 19, 2010, 2:40 p.m. CST

    The Moroder version is still the best

    by Dark Knight Lite

    Gilchrist Anderson, another New Zealander, spent 2 years restoring that cut for DVD, and it's worth the hassle of tracking it down. Kino has fought him every step of the way, which is a damn shame, since whether they like it or not, the Moroder version is still a legitimate part of the history of Lang's METROPOLIS.

  • July 19, 2010, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Metropolis is naive as hell

    by tomimt

    but at the same time is visually one of the most stunning movies I've ever seen. I'd really love to see Metropolis restored at theater, but I doubt they'll do that kind of a culture act somewhere reasonably near me.

  • July 19, 2010, 4:32 p.m. CST

    "A frame or two"

    by Unscripted

    Yes, some of the inserts are barely a blink. Many are not much longer, perhaps 4-5 frames. One of the fixes I most appreciated was when Maria is being stalked by Rotwang in the basement. She whips her head around to look behind her. In every prior cut, there seems to be a missing frame or two that turns into a distracting visual *snap*. In this print, her head-turn is just as fast, but they seem to have restored or patched a frame or two and made it more natural.

  • July 19, 2010, 4:34 p.m. CST

    Also black frames

    by Unscripted

    There are also a number of points where a few black frames are inserted in place of missing frames to preserve timing. These are hard to tell from the very short image inserts. None are distracting, particularly, as they are all done to smooth out the film flow.

  • July 19, 2010, 5:41 p.m. CST

    Moroder restoration

    by Unscripted

    Unfortunately, the Moroder restoration was accomplished in part by simply omitting any scene that could not be restored. This is not the way to "restore" a film.

  • July 20, 2010, 7:05 a.m. CST

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