Don’t Edit Me Argentina

Metropolis is complete … and pretty awesome

Brain wrinkle time. When is a review not a review? Answer: When dealing with “the complete” Metropolis. Director Fritz Lang’s 1927 dystopian epic, which birthed modern sci-fi cinema from its loins as assuredly as if we had ultrasonographic images of Blade Runner in its womb, was truncated to around 90 minutes after its original screening in Berlin. In 2008, the Museum of Cinema in Buenos Aires, Argentina found a print in its archives that added an additional 25 minutes to a 2001 restored print that pushed the film to more than two hours, for a grand total of 153 minutes of proletariat-investigating, Nazi-predicting, imagination-expanding, cinematic history. It’s hard to really review Metropolis in any form, even its supposedly restored “complete” version … but excuses are for wimps or those with money, so here goes. The film follows Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), son of Joh Frederson (Alfred Abel), as he falls in love with Maria (Brigitte Helm), a champion of “the people.” As Freder is uncovering the truth about the working-class blood that fuels his father’s skyscraper-laden city, Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is inventing a robot inspired by Freder’s dead mother. When that robot, dressed to look like Maria, encourages the workers to revolt, all schnitzel breaks loose. As much as modern audiences can relate to the grappling of have-nots with the machine of industry, much of what makes Metropolis a masterpiece of silent cinema is, by its very nature, unspoken. It’s in the still-staggering visuals, in the universal appeal of the David standing against the wealthy Goliath and in the precedent of big-budget spectacle that still stands today. Separating the film from its legacy is difficult, as the history of the thing, with Lang divorcing his wife and writer of the film Thea von Harbou when she joined the Nazis, is as captivating as any footage, restored or otherwise. While the hand-wringing, temple-rubbing overacting is a testimony to the times, it also speaks to how far this craft has come. Praise it for its pioneering, but feel free to laugh at its goofy limitations. Far less funny is the screening at Film Streams Ruth Sokolof Theater, which on Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. will be accompanied by a live score from the Alloy Orchestra. If you can’t catch that sure-to-be-brilliant experience, check out the “complete” Metropolis streaming on Film Streams’ website at filmstreams.org. What is owed to Metropolis may outweigh the joy of watching it, but luckily, not by much. GRADE: A-

posted at 08:05 pm
on Thursday, September 30th, 2010

COMMENTS

(We're testing Disqus commenting (finally!); please let us know if you have trouble.)

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Page


Oopsie Genius

I know two things for sure: (1) Birdman aims to relentlessly drive home one singular point, one thoroughly expressed thesis about life and art. (2) It does not succeed. You would think that would...

more »


The Burden of Actual Christianity

Most praise for writer/director Jesse Moss’s documentary, The Overnighters, has rightly been focused on its Steinbeckian nature and explosive revelations about struggling workers in North Dakota....

more »


Awful, Not Full of Awe

Preposterous, pseudointellectual, poorly constructed, clichéd, impenetrably masculine, goofy and possessed of an indecipherable ending, Interstellar is the mother of all misfires. It is a bloated...

more »


News-sploitation

Yesterday, CNN showed reporters physically chasing a woman connected to the Ebola scare. Not too long ago, a Fox News affiliate aired a suicide live on television. So, no, Nightcrawler isn’t...

more »


Dogged Determination

John Wick killed three guys with a pencil.

John Wick is so good at killing, he had to bury his guns beneath a cement floor just so he wouldn’t keep murdering.

John Wick will shoot you in the face,...

more »







Advanced Search