And while we’re talking about classics being reinvented, here’s a bit of cinema news: it looks like additional footage from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), lost since the original version was pulled from the Berlin theatres, has turned up again. According to Die Zeit, “The rediscovered material is in need of restoration after 80 years; the pictures are scratched, but clearly recognizable.” The Guardian reports,
The uncut version is said to solve the mystery as to why Maria, the workers’ insurrectionist leader, is mistaken by a baying mob for her doppelganger, a female robot.
OK, cinema buffs, here’s a question: did you find this part of the movie problematic or difficult to understand? I, for one, missed whatever is supposed to be the matter here. (Mobs are not noted for their fine powers of perception.) Perhaps the next time I watch my Metropolis DVD, I’ll smack my forehead and exclaim, “How silly of me not to have noticed that gaping hole all along!” Still, I’d be much happier to find out why Joh Fredersen wanted to let the mob into the Heart Machine. Did he just have a fantastically poor grasp of the consequences?
Extra details from the Guardian:
Schmale, a spy who is sent by the autocratic leader of the futuristic city, Joh Frederson, to pursue his son, Freder, plays a minor role in the cut version, but a significant supporting role in the original. “The role … can finally be understood,” Rother said.
A scene in which children are saved from the workers’ underworld is also said to be “much more dramatic” — and more violent — than in the cut version.
Being the sort of nerd who listens to DVD commentary tracks and watches all the special features, I recall that the contents of many of the missing or damaged portions of Metropolis were deduced from the film’s censorship certificate. This document, from the Head Office of Film Censorship, listed the contents of all the title cards (I presume to certify that the film was acceptable for viewing audiences). It looks like the newly rediscovered footage thus contains either ambiguous dialogue or none at all.