Fritz Lang’s film historical milestone Metropolis got a makeover and was screened during this year’s Berlinale in front Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.
Read what Kirk Honeycutt wrote for the Hollywood Reporter:
Fritz Lang’s film gets a true director’s cut 83 years later
BERLIN — The memory is still vivid after these many years. Following a screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film “Metropolis” at one of my UCLA film history classes in the early ’70s, the great man himself made his way to front of the auditorium and sat at a table. From there he denounced the print we had just seen. You could almost see steam coming from his ears as he castigated American censors and distributors for ruining his master work.
Staring through eye glasses the thickness of Coke bottles, the nearly blind Lang nevertheless read from yellowing papers in which an American distributor congratulated himself for having “improved” on Lang’s vision with his cuts. More than 40 years later, he was still mad. What we had just seen bore no resemblance to what he intended, he snorted.
The trouble was, even then, it was impossible to find a complete version of “Metropolis” in or outside of America. Collectors the world over would maintain they possessed a nearly complete version of the legendary film. Yet a quarter of the original version seemed irretrievably lost.
Indeed the Berlinale itself screened a reconstructed version in 2001 that was deemed, to quote my old program notes, “extremely close to the visual impression made by the premiere copy of 1927.”
Then came what for film archivists was the Holy Grail — the discovery of a 16mm negative of Lang’s film in Buenos Aires in 2008. This amounts to the recovery of some 30 minutes of previously lost footage.