Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The Metropolis I saw is not the most recent edition in which extra footage is contained that was found in Argentina, July 2008. Since that version never came to Dallas this summer, I had to settle with the next best option, the 2002 restoration that runs for just over two hours (the new version should be arriving on a special edition DVD and Blu-Ray in November). Though we're told before the film starts that the version is incomplete and only about a quarter of Fritz Lang's original vision, two hours of footage is hard to complain about and much longer than most silent movies. But that being said, Metropolis still has a plenty of holes in the plot due to lost footage, and though the missing parts are summed up by titles, the overall impact is lessened because of the missing reels. As for the movie itself, I loved it, not just because it's great in and of itself, but because it so clearly inspired some of my favorite pieces of Science Fiction. If you look at all the great sci-fi films, Dark City, The Matrix, Gattaca, Blade Runner, they clearly draw from Fritz Lang's 1926 classic. It's really an unbelievable piece of work, so radical and innovative, and literally incomparable to any film of its time. There are countless images that leave you baffled as to how they actually did that, and other scenes that are brilliant contributions to the story. One that stuck out to me was when the hero wanders into the depths of Metropolis and is horrified by the dreadful working conditions and overall methods of operation. Shortly after his arrival, he sees a terrible accident take place on one of the machines. The "men" come marching, quickly take off all the wounded and dead, and then the workers get right back to their job. It's like the accident never happened and like these people are so accustomed to calamities that they continue on like machines. Metropolis will probably never be complete, and therefore never perfect. But it doesn't really matter, because this is more important as a piece of history than a movie, and more a piece of masterful vision, architecture, and engineering than a story. And it's hard to say which word pertains to the movie more, majestic, or haunting.