Metropolis

( 23 )

Overview

There are so many different editions of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) in circulation that audiences could be forgiven for being confused as to which one is preferable -- until Kino International released this DVD. After that, there is no real "competition," only cheaper, infinitely poorer-quality versions of Metropolis out there, which are no bargain, for reasons you'll see below. Kino's release starts out working from the fullest, finest restoration of the movie ever attempted (without making the mistakes that ...
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Overview

There are so many different editions of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) in circulation that audiences could be forgiven for being confused as to which one is preferable -- until Kino International released this DVD. After that, there is no real "competition," only cheaper, infinitely poorer-quality versions of Metropolis out there, which are no bargain, for reasons you'll see below. Kino's release starts out working from the fullest, finest restoration of the movie ever attempted (without making the mistakes that were made on the Giorgio Moroder version), which was done jointly by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, the Munich Filmmuseum, and the Deutsches Filminstitut in Wiesbaden. The current restoration, utilized by Kino, avails itself of every source of film and all information available about the complete plot and the missing scenes and intertitles -- it also restores the original takes of scenes approved by Lang for use, where the latter had been replaced by outtakes in a later stopgap edition of the negative. Metropolis is still not complete, and probably never will be; the chances of the lost quarter of the movie -- nearly 30 minutes of visuals -- ever turning up after more than 75 years are next to nonexistent. But this is the best presentation Metropolis has ever had in America, or virtually anywhere since the original run of the film in early 1927 Germany. The movie looks new, like it could have been shot yesterday -- in black-and-white, of course, but cleaner and sharper than one would expect of a silent movie (especially this oft-abused title), with skin textures and even the weave in the fabrics of people's clothing discernible. Every frame has seemingly been cleaned up, and the contrast and density of the image balanced, so that this 1927 movie glistens and shines like it was made 50 years later that it was. Projected at the proper speed, it's also a very serious and very dazzling movie, dramatically as well as visually. After a few minutes, one forgets that it is a silent movie. Oh, and it isn't silent, either -- the producers have restored Gottfried Huppertz's original 1926 orchestral score, which has the lushness and expressiveness of Richard Wagner's work and the gentle accessibility of Franz Schubert at his most genial, with elements of Bruckner, Liszt, and Schumann also evident. It makes a world of difference to see this movie with the score that Fritz Lang approved -- the one with which he intended it be shown. Indeed, the use of the proper intertitles, with corrected translations, and the restoration of the original plot elements (particularly the personal rivalry between Fredersen and Rotwang) are likely to make viewers feel as if they are watching Metropolis for the first time, even if they are familiar with the film. Everything described up to this point would make a disc worth owning, but Kino has also added a full-length commentary track by film historian by Enno Patalas. This isn't a wall-to-wall commentary -- it seems more like strung-together remarks than a full-on monologue discussion, and Patalas sometimes has a tendency to describe what we're seeing onscreen and tell us what we could deduce by watching closely -- but overall, he does provide some helpful observations. It is also refreshing to hear a commentary by someone who respects the printed word as well as the 35 mm print, for he provides a contrast between Lang's movie and Thea von Harbou's novel, which was filled with more symbolic language than even this restored cut of the movie contains. Patalas even mentions Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow and its use of Metropolis as an image from German popular culture. This might not be the best film commentary anyone has done, but it will be a learning experience for a lot of film lovers and others. The supplements include the 43-minute featurette "The Metropolis Case" (a clever play on a Janacek opera title, The Makropolis Case), which gives a nicely full history of German cinema of the 1920s and the expressionist movement. After an account of Lang's early career that encompasses interview material with the director, the featurette becomes a making-of account, complete with an analysis of how the special effects were devised (even the design of Brigitte Helm's robot costume). It even offers a blow-by-blow account of how the movie was altered for American release. The documentary is so charming and informative that it alone would justify much of the cost of the DVD -- one only wishes that it ran longer. Also present among the special features is a before-and-after account of the restoration of the movie, which constitutes a fairly amazing tale of a frightfully expensive process that has yielded, as we see throughout this disc, astonishing results. There are also extensive production stills, shots depicting scenes that were cut from the premiere version of the movie and which are still missing, architectural design sketches for the settings of the movie, and costume sketches from which the designers worked. Also included are more than a dozen extensive bios and filmographies on those in charge of the creative side of the movie's production; the only complaint about these is that Kino used a slightly too small font size for the filmographies, which makes the titles a bit difficult to read. Otherwise, this release is perfect, and a wonder -- all packaged in a multi-layered disc and triple-layer menu that's very easy to maneuver around.
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Special Features

43-minute documentary on the making of Metropolis by Enno Patalas ; "The Digital Restoration" featurette; Photo galleries featuring production stills, missing scenes, architectural sketches, and poster artwork; 13 cast and crew biographies; 5.1 Surround sound of newly recorded orchestral score ; Audio commentary in English, German, French, and Spanish ; Titles in English, German, French, and Spanish
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
Set around the apocalyptic year of 2000, Metropolis has had a seminal influence on science fiction and futuristic movies as diverse as The Bride of Frankenstein, Blade Runner, and Dark City. Featuring literally a cast of thousands, Metropolis creates a reality so complex and artistically unified the viewer gets swept away to this future world. Director Fritz Lang's surreal and occasionally incomprehensible storyline is overwhelmed by a visually spectacular exercise in German expressionism. Master cinematographer Karl Freund fills the screen with an array of stylized shadows, oblique camera angles, geometric images, and nightmarish labyrinths. The film's dialectical theme may seem dated in these post-Marxist times, and its message that the head and the hand can do no good without the heart may seem a little romantic to more cynical ages, but the warnings about techno-demagoguery continue to have modern relevance. The actors give typical silent-film performances, full of exaggerated expressions and broad gestures, but they express their characters' fragile humanity despite these mannerisms. Rudolf Klein-Rogge's unforgettable work as the evil genius Rotwang became the template for all subsequent mad-scientist performances. Despite being a critical and popular disappointment on its initial release, the film eventually gained cult status and was rediscovered by critics and audiences alike. When it was re-released in the 1980s, some missing footage was restored and a synthesizer-heavy soundtrack by Giorgio Moroder was added, to much gnashing of critical teeth.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/18/2003
  • UPC: 738329027520
  • Original Release: 1927
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Language: Deutsche, English, Français, Español
  • Time: 2:04:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 39,148

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alfred Abel Joh Fredersen
Gustav Froehlich Freder
Rudolf Klein-Rogge Rotwang
Theodor Loos Josaphat/Joseph
Heinrich George Grot (Foreman)
Brigitte Helm Maria/Robot
Fritz Alberti Robot
Grete Berger Female Worker
Erwin Biswanger Georg, No. 11811
Max Dietze Working man
Erik Frey Female Worker
Heinrich Gotho Master of Ceremonies
Lisa Gray Female Worker
Georg John Worker
Margarete Lanner Woman in Car
Rose Lichtenstein Female Worker
Fritz Rasp Slim
Hans Leo Reich Mafinus
Arthur Reinhard Worker
Olaf Storm Jan
Erwin Vater Working man
Technical Credits
Fritz Lang Director, Screenwriter
Karl W. Freund Cinematographer
Thea von Harbou Screenwriter
Otto Hunte Art Director, Production Designer
Gottfried Huppertz Score Composer
Erich Kettelhut Art Director, Production Designer
Erich Pommer Producer
Günther Rittau Cinematographer
Eugen Schüfftan Special Effects
Karl Vollbrecht Art Director, Production Designer
Anne Willkom Costumes/Costume Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Credits, Prelude [3:13]
2. Shift Change [2:22]
3. The Club of the Sons [:57]
4. The Eternal Gardens [1:58]
5. Love at First Sight [3:24]
6. To Moloch Machine [3:53]
7. To the New Tower of Babel! [1:11]
8. Joh Fredersen [2:56]
9. Dialogue With the Father [3:01]
10. Suspicious Plans [3:59]
11. Freder Engages Josaphat [2:33]
12. Freder Meets Georgy [3:11]
13. Fredersen at Rotwang's House [2:38]
14. The Machine Man [2:38]
15. The Call of the Catacombs [5:50]
16. Maria's Sermon [4:20]
17. ...And the Power's Answer [6:51]
18. Rotwang Persecutes Maria [3:21]
19. Freder in the Cathedral [3:32]
20. Rotwang Hassles Maria [5:07]
21. The Transformation [2:41]
22. Freder's Collapse [2:23]
23. The Dance of the Whore of Babylon [4:59]
24. Josaphat's Report for Freder [3:24]
25. A Call for Rebellion [4:58]
26. The Storming of the Heart Machine [4:34]
27. Destroying the Heart Machine [4:00]
28. The Doom of the Worker's City [3:24]
29. Saving the Children [3:52]
30. Witch Hunt [5:55]
31. A Stake in Front of the Cathedral [3:52]
32. Maria's Rescue and Rotwang's End [3:31]
33. Finale and End Credits [3:49]
1. The Metropolis Case
2. From Art to Cinema
3. From Caligari to Metropolis
4. From Vienna to Berlin
5. The Making of Metropolis
6. Imaginary Architecture
7. Viewing Machines
8. Special Effects
9. Sound Pictures
10. The Unmaking
11. The Remaking
12. After Metropolis
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Menu

Side #1 --
   The Film
   Chapter
   Set-Up
      Subtitles
         French
         Spanish
         Off
      Audio
         Dolby Digital Stereo
         Dolby Digital 5.1
   Commentary
      Audio Commentary by Film Historian Enno Patalas: English
         On
         Off
   Special Features
      The Metropolis Case
         Start
         Chapters
         Set-Up
            Subtitles: English
            French
            Spanish
            Off
      The Restoration
         Start
      Photo Galleries
         The Making of Metropolis Production Stills
            Enter
         Missing Scenes
            Enter
         Architectural Sketches
            Enter
         Costume Designs
            Enter
         Posters
            Enter
      Biographies
         Fritz Lang
         Thea Von Harbou
         Erich Pommer
         Karl Freund
         Günther Rittau
         Otto Hunte
         Erich Kettelhut
         Gottfried Huppertz
         Brigitte Helm
         Gustav Fröhlich
         Rudolf Klein-Rogge
         Alfred Abel
         Heinrich George
      Facts & Dates
      DVD-Credits
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great movie

    I was lucky enough to see this version of Metropolis on the big screen at a local theater a few months ago, and it immediately became one of my favorite movies of all time. The visual effects, while out-dated now, still had the effectiveness of more modern movies like The Matrix. If you see one silent film in your lifetime, make it this one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This is a terrible print!

    Metropolis is one of the defining moments of the 20th century. Beatifully shot, and choreographed. The visual effects set the standard and influences film makers even today. However, this wonderful film is done a disservice on this DVD. The screen is cropped at the top and left. It is so contrasty, that you can't see the faces or any of the elaborate and beatiful sets. Much of the impact of the coreography is lost. The music is nice, but it does not go with the picture. Were it not the only Metropolis on DVD I can find, I would have returned it. The print is very bad. I've seen better on VHS. Please tell me if you have found a good print on DVD!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2012

    Metropolis - A great classic!

    I love this movie! A piece of early Science Fiction motion pictures! Fritz Lang's last silent movie is brilliant! The cast, and the special effects, are wonderful (especially th lovely Brigitte Helm)! There were moments of graininess in the film. But, don't let that take away the enjoyment of watching it! Do I recommend it? YES!

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  • Posted June 18, 2011

    Poor copy

    My DVD copy was terrible. Every other scene was streaked. I am not sure if the good scenes were the "missing 25 minutes" redone from 16mm or were the original. Very disappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    a must own

    In 1927 my mother was 17 years old. Like most of the country at that time she would have been living a largely agrarian lifestyle, a countrified life, filled with cornpone and over-cooked green beans. Her simple cotton clothes would have smelled of some borax-like detergent and her nails would have been short and split from hard work around the farm. Had she made it to town to see this picture show on some muggy Saturday night in 1927 with my father, she would have stared agog at the screen as the phantasmagoric images swam past in futuristic splendor. For a brief hour and a half or so it would have lifted her away from the washboards and wringers and pump handles and udders and brooms and clotheslines. When she came out she would have shaken her head in disbelief and laughed with wonder that such a world could have been created. Imagine yourself in 1927 when you see this film and share the wonder of this, one of the very first films in (and the likely fertile progenitor of) the cinematic genre called science fiction. Its cost, they say, was over $200 millions in adjusted dollars – quite an extravagance for the time, two-thirds the cost of Titanic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Silent sci-fi

    Definitely a must see for film buffs and sci-philes. The sets and costumes are confoundingly prophetic, as are the special effects. But, for all of the astonishingly advanced film techniques, one of the most crucial is missing, the sound.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Innovation to the fullest!!!!

    This movie is not only the greatest science fiction film of all time but in my opinion it is also the greatest silent film of all time. You can't explain the feeling this movie gives you, all you can say is this is something you need to see!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Masterpiece

    This is by far one of the most memorable movies ever made. Metropolis has influenced everything from "Citizen Cane" to "Blade Runner" to Japanese anime like, "Akira" & Osamu Tezuka/ Rintaro's anime remake of the same name even a Madonna's "Express Yourself" music video! Silent film or not, everyone must see this movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Oh My !

    How could anyone give anything BUT a 5-star review for this movie ?!? Kino Video has restored this video to near-perfection and heaped many extras, as well. The DVD is well worth the price.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Insight to life.

    I have always been interest in this poster that hung above ,heads inside the seattle science center. My curiosity grew after finding out where this Icon was from. The 1920's, silent film era had become attractive .SO I rented metropolis in October 2003 with my son ,who is eight. he liked it,but thought it was very freaky .this was his first silent film .He loves sci.fi..Thou ,I did cover his eyes during the robot's seduction of man . This film was an insightful piece of art,entering the History of MAN'S seemingly constant demise. Frits Lang,thank you! for your vision of architectecture and design. That has, captured are minds,and Imaginations. Amplified Angel Sea Wash. {She still lives}.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The First Classic Science Fiction Film

    I saw this version on the big screen ot my local art center. It is far more complete and compelling than the cheap DVD which I own. The restoration adds immensely to it the power of the film, and having the original score is a huge benefit. One can fault Lang on his particular vision of the future which owes much to Marx and Engels, but the power of the visuals takes you to this future. Silent film is a lost art and this is easily one of the ten greatest silents. Metropolis has influenced endless science fiction films, and many non-genre works as well. Watch it, and its' many decendents will leap into your brain. (I'm certain the lustful men watching the dancer scene inspired Tex Avery in Swing Shift Cinderella and Red Hot Ridinghood.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great....

    Brigitte Helm is wonderful in this film, and the special effects are beyond their time. Fritz Lang did a great job with this political thriller. It's provocative and thought provoking. Definitely a must have for ANYONE who loves MOVIES period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wow

    This movies turned me on to silent films. They know how to make them back then.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    wow!

    This is one of those movies were your just like wow and then you fall asleep before the movie ends.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews