on 11 September 2010
I recently saw this newly restored version of Metropolis at Chichester Film Festival (in a Blue Ray presentation) and cannot recommend it highly enough - whether you know this film or not it should be seen. The inclusion of the previously missing 25 minutes (easily noticed due to the poor state of the source material) makes an enormous difference to the film, significantly changing the story line and the overall feel of the film. The poor quality of the inserted film does not diminish its importance and effect (ranging from a few seconds here and there, to whole scenes) but combines to effectively make a new film - or more accurately the resurrection of a lost one (the original 1927 premiered cut). Of course this version does not affect the obvious faults of the film but certainly makes for a more satisfying experience - it completes (apart from about 4 minutes apparently) and confirms the place this film has in the history of cinema. Whether you are interested in silent movies (then I'd highly recommend PiccadillyPiccadilly  [DVD]), the development of cinema (then you should also see Fritz Lang's MM [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray] ), special effects (and what incredible effects!) or the history of science fiction on film, this version must be seen.
on 4 November 2010
How do you get a balanced review of a new release when Amazon bundle old reviews of the DVD version (as old as 2001 !!!) with the new ones. CHUMPS. Get your act together Amazon this is a frequent fault.
Metropolis as originally conceived by Fritz Lang only survived a short premiere run at one Berlin cinema after which it was withdrawn and the negative sent for re-editing to Paramount the Holly wood associates of the German UFA company.
Paramount considered Metropolis incomprehensible and created a new simplified plot line discarding twenty five percent of the film, and for over fifty years this was the only version available. The vast majority of the missing material is now considered lost forever.
However as a result of research in the 1990s it was possible to definitively reconstruct the plot and the current restoration incorporating all the available material was undertaken. The missing sections of the film are narrated by means of the original captions for the missing sections and additional notes. In addition there is an excellent commentary filling in the gaps.
So at last we can see Lang's original 1927 vision of a horrific future with a favoured elite living on the surface of the earth enjoying a life of luxury, and a vast army of nameless workers living in a grim underground city toiling ten hour shifts.
Freder (Gustav Frolich) son of the ruler of Metropolis and one of the favoured elite investigates the plight of the workers and is so horrified decides to do something about it, and falls in love with Maria (Brigitte Helm) who gives a stunning performance in her first film role. Maria is a leader of the workers seeking justice for them by mediation and sees Freder as the mediator. A major sub plot is the enmity between the ruler (Alfred Abel) and Rotwang (Rudolph Klein-Rogge) who is attempting to create a mechanical version of the dead woman they both loved.
The 1927 sets and special effects are spectacular, reflecting in many ways the art of the period.The acting is good throughout except for Frolich who in my opinion is over the top, the original score (making wide use of leitmotivs) in a modern recording is a major contribution to the success of the restoration, and the digital restoration provides us with a near pristine copy.
This is not a film for a relaxed evenings viewing, but more than repays the effort needed to fully appreciate it.
on 18 April 2000
An interesting and fascinating look at German silent cinema, and in particular, how sci-fi got started. This 1926 film is set in the year 2000, and takes the form of the fictional city of "Metropolis". Though often considered a pro-fascist film (a claim which Fritz Lang always vehemently denied), there is little to suggest that there is any intended Fascist agenda. The film once again draws on female contrast. For example, the contrast between the "pure woman" (Maria), and the "impure woman" (the robot Maria), further exemplifying the dichotomy between good and evil. Metropolis paints a negative image of mechanisation, with the machines running the city, yet mankind is worse off. The social critique is also there, with a 3 tier social structure, reflected in the habitats of the classes. The geometric mise-en-scène is seen as a representation of the rigidly ordered and structured society also. Scripted by Thea Von Harbou (Lang's wife), this film can truly be regarded as a landmark, and the first sci-film. Quoted as inspiration by many modern directors, and similarities can be seen in many areas (ie C3P0 was modelled on the Metropolis robot). My advice is to see this movie - its simply fantastic.
[I've added some photos to the item page showing the steelbook packaging and the internal arrangement/contents]
There is a dedicated website about this new edition. I have added the URL for it as an Amazon 'Customer Discussion' post on the item page (as reviews cannot contain external Internet links).
This is a German film originating from 1927, so obviously is filmed in black-and-white and it relies on dialogue 'frames' interjected into the footage and a musical soundtrack to emphasise what occurs. Considering when it was made it is extremely innovative with the futuristic depiction and the grand/often complicated production aspects.
Being interested in it but not having watched the film before I pre-ordered this steelbook Blu-ray/DVD combination as the previews stated that, considering how many different iterations have been issued beforehand, it was likely to be about as good as we can get for completeness, restoration quality and originality (especially regarding the musical soundtrack). Whilst a bit pricey, this Limited Edition issue can be considered something of a treasured investment, not just for the updates but because of the 'package' as a whole. On Blu-ray the basic 'stock' of the film looks very good and the audio is quite superb if you can exploit properly the DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. In comparison to the DVD version there is an improvement for the picture, but the difference is especially significant for the audio presentation.
For the uninitiated, the (very) basics of the plot are that a father (who is the master of 'Metropolis') and son are at odds with each other, with the son unhappy with the way the workers of the city are treated; ultimately, he sets out on a path of rebellion on their behalf.....
I have learned that this version is heavily restored and includes a significant proportion of previously 'missing' footage from a recently discovered negative which was not in the best of condition; a leader to the film provides a short history for the new elements and explains the changes and how they will appear. To my eyes there are 4 different qualities of picture incorporated: the main (significant majority) stock is clear/sharp, some apparent 'secondary' main stock (as I saw it at least !) is slightly less sharp but otherwise the same, the first of the 'new' footage is bright but blurred (imagine viewing a vivid b/w film through a fogged-up lens !) and the most degraded 'new' footage is quite poor but still perfectly watchable, with blur and prominent damage represented in the form of a lot of vertical lines running across the frame (much like how we might normally see very old b/w films !).
I am not a 'Metropolis' aficionado but the added sections often seem to add a lot to the storyline. Sometimes they are before/after extensions to existing scenes, but often they are entirely new scenes with significant dialogue or 'action'. I cannot say how the story was covered without the missing footage but it was either entirely omitted or somehow explained with subtitle embellishment....The dialogue cards are white on black full-frame, in German and can be displayed with selectable English (white) subtitles which appear at the base of the frame. The viewing experience is very good and the film enjoyable, not just when one appreciates it's age but also because of what we see and, most significantly, hear courtesy of that marvellous soundtrack (of which more later).
On Blu-ray the footage is, at its best, bright and quite sharp. On DVD the only difference appears to be a slight reduction in sharpness.
Now to the soundtrack, where there is the most significant difference between the disc formats. This edition features a new 2010 symphony orchestra studio recording of the original 1927 Gottfried Huppertz score; the DVD has DD2.0/5.1 options and the Blu-ray DTS HD Master Audio 2.0/5.1 options. The DD5.1 and DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 versions appeared quite similar to me, being clear and with good definition - rather like listening to a CD of the music. However, those options are blown out of the water when the DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 is played (on a multi-channel audio system of course). In comparison the DD5.1/DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 appear quite 'flat' and focussed to the front channels whereas the DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 audio is much, much clearer and multi-dimensional; it doesn't create a 'surround experience' like action films as such, but utilises the extra speaker channels to make the orchestral presentation sound and acoustics as authentic as possible - the music is recreated in such a way that you really feel as though you are in a hall and there could be an orchestra playing in front of you. It is magnificent !
Each disc includes the same complement of extras: a commentary track, a 55min 'restoration' documentary and a re-release trailer.
The Blu-ray sized steelbook is nicely finished and includes a 56-page booklet (colour with lots of photos) dedicated to the film and the restoration. I have 2 (small !) gripes: there is a spine-length information card 'wrapper' on the opening end/back of the steelbook which, while attached with non-damaging adhesive, means it gets in the way, and the 'piggy-back' storage of the discs makes the bottom disc both elusive along with being rather tricky to remove as it is both firmly held in the case and sits underneath an overlapping lug portion for the upper disc. See my photos...
So, any fan of 'Metropolis' is likely to be pleased with this offering. As you can buy this edition in 3 different versions it is worth noting that the DVD is perfectly acceptable and omits no content (advertising implies that all editions include the booklet), but if you have a Blu-ray player you can take advantage of better visual presentation and (better still and assuming you have a surround sound system) a truly magnificent musical soundtrack. The steelbook DVD/Blu-ray combination seals the deal !
Don't take the title literally, of course cinematic Sci-Fi existed before Fritz Lang filmed METROPOLIS... However, for most people the Sci-Fi we enjoy today have this film as their Primer so basically yes, this is where it all began. Having been a fan of the film for years I was lucky enough to receive my limited-edition Steelbook early from Eureka! themselves, so I can report exactly how this film looks in 1080p, and the extras it contains.
Firstly, it's a print that is comprised of many different sources so don't expect a pristine experience from start to finish... the original METROPOLIS that premiered in Germany was 40 minutes longer than the version most commonly seen (I'm going to forget Giorgio Moroder's synth-pop mutation ever existed, thanks), which was butchered and truncated after bombing at the box-office. Thanks to a recent discovery of an almost-complete print in Buenos Aires F.W. Murnau-Stiftung in Munich was able to take the extra footage from this print, splice it in to the familiar version and presto... Cinema History back where it belongs. It must be remembered however, that the Buenos Aires print was in exceptionally poor condition and it shows when these frames are shown, and a scene detailing Maria's escape from Rotwang is still absent and is simply narrated via text... But so what? The film is 83 years old and it's a privilege to see it again, especially if we remember that we may have never gotten the chance to see it.
Extras-wise, I found the extras on the Blu-Ray slightly lacking from MOCs usual banquet, comprising of a commentary, trailer and German documentary on history of the film and it's restoration. This could be due to the size of the high-definition movie file however. You do get the usual sumptuous MOC booklet which I shall be reading from cover-to-cover as per usual, German Impressionist Cinema seems to be their favourite subject (See the booklet for Murnau's FAUST, for example). And the steelbook itself? Those who buy the standard DVD/Blu are missing out I can tell you, it's by far the most gorgeous case in my collection now. So, hands up for Masters of Cinema, our own Criterion Collection, they've triumphed again. Essential Purchase.
on 2 January 2013
I first saw Metropolis when I was 14 years old, and was bought this version - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Metropolis-Two-Disc-Special-Edition/dp/B00007JGIW/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1357123432&sr=8-6 - which was the most complete version at the time, for my birthday. I absolutely loved every moment of it, and was always disappointed whenever inter-tiles appeared to explain what happened during the missing segments, presumed lost forever.
When I heard the announcement that most of the missing footage had been recovered in Buenos Aires, I couldn't be more excited - and impatiently checked the news almost every week to see if the restored version was available on DVD! And finally it was; and I couldn't be more happy with the result.
The restored footage is sadly in a bad state (although after watching the documentary they've worked miracles with it!) but it is entirely watchable and it adds so much that was missing to the film that I felt like I was watching it again for the first time. The characters of the Thin Man and Josaphat are more fully fleshed out, we find out what happened to 11811 when he went missing en route to Josaphat's apartment, and see a lot more interaction between Rotwang and Joh (the fact that the American censors cut this because it didn't make sense is staggeringly silly!).
Really, this version fleshes out so much of the story and characterisation that it renders past versions moot, BUT the past versions are still good within their own right and pay testament to what an impact this film left on film-lovers - they never gave up looking for the lost footage, and they found it!
I haven't listened to the commentary yet, but I found the one-hour documentary on the story of Metropolis (from creating it, to losing the footage, to finding it again) a brilliant production. Not fully fleshed out, but enough to act as a springboard if you want to go away to find out more about the film and Fritz Lang.
A definite purchase for lovers of silent cinema, lovers of sci-fi, and lovers of great acting.
on 22 November 2005
Set in the far future of 2000, a future where the privileged few live on the backs of a hidden mass of workers knowing nothing but their dark barracks and the machines that ruled their lives, Metropolis tells the stories of Maria, a teacher who urges the workers to wait for the earthly paradise; Joh Fredersen, who ruled the city; his son; and the mad Scientist Rotwang who hated Fredersen for prospering on the back of Rotwang's inventions. So when Fredersen asked Rotwang to... replace Maria with a mechanical copy, Rotwang sees a perfect chance to gain his revenge!
Despite the age of the film, and the fact that the year 2000 wasn't anything like this, the film still has the power to shock. In particular, the conditions that are endured by the underground slaves are truly horrific.
Even though it nearly bankrupted the film company - there was a cast of of almost 38,000 and it cost over $2 million in 1920s money, it was to become Fritz Lang's directorial monument and it was a massive hit with the emerging Nazi party, leading to Hitler offering Lang the job of making prestige pictures for them. Lang left Germany immediately for Hollywood.
Looking at the film and seeing the conditions that the workers lived in, it was not just the way the film is ended that made an impression on the Nazi leadership.
This is the original black and white version with the musical score based on the original Gottfried Huppertz score. Unfortunately the restorers did not have a complete version of the film to work from. But the silent nature of the sound track enabled them to fill in the gaps with explanitory story boards.
on 1 March 2015
The picture and sound quality on this blu-ray is amazing. As per the Masters of Cinema website, the extras available in this 2 disc edition, which were not available in the 1 disc blu ray are: 1. The Fading Image, a rarely seen behind-the-scenes documentary about Moroder’s restoration and scoring of Metropolis. 2. Metropolis Refound - a 2010 documentary by Evangelina Loguerico exploring the rediscovery of the most complete print of the Fritz Lang masterpiece in an Argentinean film museum. 3. Giorgio Moroder presents: Metropolis - the 1984 re-imaging of Metropolis featuring a soundtrack by Moroder himself and artists such as Adam Ant, Pat Benatar, Freddie Mercury and many more. You of course also get the other extras from the 1 disc edition too.
on 23 October 2010
One thing that confuses me is that Amazon bill this magnificent movie as 150 minutes, yet the Amazon review lists it as 118 minutes. I know an extra 25 minutes is mentioned, so did Amazon just lift a review from the earlier DVD, which happen to have? I don't want to buy an identical film, even though it's a classic like this.
UPDATE: I can see Amazon have made a hash of this review. The pack appears to have 3 discs, not 2, although this is not mentioned. I only found this out by looking elsewhere.