Metropolis (1927)
August 10, 2022 9:01 PM - Subscribe

This influential German science-fiction film presents a highly stylized futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated workers. When the privileged youth Freder (Gustav Fröhlich) discovers the grim scene under the city, he becomes intent on helping the workers. He befriends the rebellious teacher Maria (Brigitte Helm), but this puts him at odds with his authoritative father, leading to greater conflict.

Directed by Fritz Lang. Written by Thea von Harbou and Lang, based on von Harbou's novel.

97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Many versions of this film have been released.

Hoopla has both the the 83 minute long 1984 version with a new electronic soundtrack written by Giorgio Moroder featuring Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar, Adam Ant, Bonnie Tyler, Loverboy, and Billy Squier (Wikipedia) and the 148 minute long 2010 Metropolis Restored release (aka The Complete Metropolis, Wikipedia).

Kanopy also has the 148 minute 2010 version. So does Arrow.

Tubi seems to have the 144 minute long 2001 "Restored Authorized Edition" (Wikipedia)

YouTube has: several different uploads of the 2010 version, the 2010 version colorized, the 2010 edition, with live symphonic accompaniment ( though the aspect ratio is altered to make it seem widescreen), the 2010 version with audio commentary by David Kalat and Jonathan Rosenbaum, a "corrected version" that slows the film down to "intended" frame rate of 16fps (although that is almost certainly incorrect), the Giorgio Moroder version, with the tinting preserved (not sure if the one on Hoopla has that), a scratchy print of the 93 minute long 1972 East German home video version (Wikipedia), the 118 minute long 1980's West German release, that same release with an alternate electronic (and kind of 8-bit sounding) score by Loy Cook, and another alternate version set to pieces by Tchaikovsky.

Plex offers a very sharp version of the 2001 restoration.

Pluto has a very scratchy, crap copy of a 144 minute edition. Redbox has a similarly rough-looking 135 minute version. Filmbox has a 143 minute version. The Roku Channel has a rough-looking 123 minute version. That matches up with the length of the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation restoration/reconstruction with re-recorded score and intertitles explaining the missing footage. But it looks terrible, and I suspect it is actually one of the 80s home video versions at a slightly different frame rate.

Here's a comparison of the three main editions available on Blu-Ray.

You can also rent this film pretty much anywhere.
posted by DirtyOldTown (4 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I first saw Metropolis in high school via a janky 16mm print. I recall the print quality was pretty shit, but you could still see how amazing the imagery was.

As teens, we especially found the acting of Gustav Fröhlich to be amateurishly hilarious, and, honestly, I still cannot watch the film without Fröhlich’s performance distracting me. It’s just...bad. Apparently, he was largely a vaudevillian and this was his first big film role. I don’t think there’s a moment in the film where he isn’t hunched over forward (instead of standing upright). It’s a weird performance. But, he went on to be a very popular star, so ~shrugs~

Regardless, I love this film.

Here’s Brigitte Helm taking a break on set.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:06 AM on August 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

I've seen it multiple times but never really loved it until I saw the 2010 version. The narrative doesn't really make any sense without the scenes from that version.
posted by octothorpe at 4:42 PM on August 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

The scene of workers being unwillingly dragged into the chomping jaws of Moloch always stuck with me, and definitely came back into the front of my mind during the COVID frontline-worker crisis.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 5:48 AM on August 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

I've seen it multiple times but never really loved it until I saw the 2010 version. The narrative doesn't really make any sense without the scenes from that version.

Absolutely. It also helped that the restoration and resultant print was so clean and clear. Most of the times I’d see the film, the print was dark and murky. The 2010 version is pretty damned gorgeous, all things considered.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:14 AM on August 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

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