It is not going to be my habit to make multiple daily posts (hello LiveJournal) but we will break in for breaking news.
The long version of Metropolis has been found.
To some of you this will bring a shriek of joy, to others a trip to Wikipedia. Metropolis is perhaps the greatest German silent film (some would argue for Murnau’s Nosferatu) and certainly MY favorite silent.
The premiere version ran some three and a half hours, which was only shown for about three months in 1927. After this the film was hacked away at over time to run perhaps 90 minutes and because you can change the story with new titles in a silent film, this is what Paramount did to the film here in the US.
The film slipped into public domain and was relegated to cheap Madacy style releases with dreadful image and worse “scores”. One bright spot was a restoration by Giorgio Moroder in the mid-80s. The image looked much improved, and some new scenes were found, but the film was actually shorter than many edits at 80 minutes. Partly this was due to his removal of inter-titles and putting them onscreen with images like subtitles, but the real controversy was his adding modern pop music as a score, all composed for the film. I personally like it, some hate it.
In 2002 a restoration was done that was what we’d come to expect was going to be the best we’d ever get. It ran close to 2 hours (projected at current speeds of 24 frames per second means that it runs a bit shorter than it would at silent speeds of 18-20 fps, but this is always a grey area) This version restored things that hadn’t been seen in a long time from various prints discovered through the years. The film was also put back in order according to the long version continuity available and missing sequences were described in text and stills. It was great to see because we could get an idea of what the original had been like.
But now we don’t have to imagine.
The full version exists (from what I’ve read) on a battered 16mm print found in Argentina of all places. The long version was requested in 1928 by a local distributor from UFA. Martin Koerber will hopefully be involved in this new work, restoring the 16 footage and incorporating it with his already beautiful work that is available on the current Kino DVD.
Update: Kino has comfirmed that the new footage will be on the already planned 2009 Blu-ray release, and there will now be a new DVD release as well (via The Digital Bits)
– Original Article: http://www.zeit.de/online/2008/27/metropolis-vorab-englisch?page=1
– Pictures! (new): http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37332
– Further Reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolis_%28film%29