Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)
What is there to say about the magical Metropolis that has not already been said? Not a damn thing, most likely, which is going to do something very rare: shut me up. I’m just going to point you to everything from Roger Ebert’s Great Films entry on the 2010 restoration, which adds almost half an hour of footage long believed to be lost (it was found in Buenos Aires in 2008; it had been cut from the original by German censors, who found it objectionable—not terribly surprising in interbellum Germany), or Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 2002 review from the Chicago Reader or Thomas Elsaesser’s book-length deconstruction of the film and for my part, I’m going to simply implore you to watch the silly thing, in its full, restored glory, and if you are at all a fan of fantasy, science fiction, or horror film, marvel at how incredibly influential this movie has been—you will recognize the source of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of things you’ve seen in movies since then.
Note when I say “restored” that I don’t mean the new footage is as pristine as it was in 1927. Far from it—the footage recovered in Argentina was not handled all that well (in fact, there was over an hour cut from the film; half of it was not salvageable from the Argentinian print, and what happens in those bits is supplied to us via intertitles), and the difference between the bits included here from the 2001 remaster, which look very good indeed, and the bits from the 2010 restoration is palpable. And it doesn’t matter one bloody bit, ghosts of hairs and scratches on the celluloid and dust motes abound and it’s still riveting stuff, the kind of movie you can watch in the 2010s and still understand that when people went to the movies in the 1920s, some of them thought they were seeing actual honest-to-filmstock magic happening. And perhaps they were. One of the all-time greats. **** ½
Official trailer for the 2010 restoration.