This fantastic film by Fritz Lang has been restored to a reasonable facsimile of the original version. Not a bad job, considering a good chunk of the film was destroyed or lost after being drastically cut three weeks after its 1927 German release. In this release, lost scenes are replaced with a description of what would have been there, with the underlying music continuing through the missing sections. The original 1927 orchestral score is also present, and effectively punctuates the dramatic scenes (and unfortunately, may lull you to sleep in the quieter scenes).
For those who haven’t seen this film, imagine the prototype for all science fiction films that came after it. This film displays images that are so timeless, that they have been borrowed time and time again by filmmakers, such as Ridley Scott, George Lucas, and numerous others. As in “Blade Runner” (1982), New is juxtaposed with Old, high and low class are in conflict, and workers come face-to-face with their corporate leaders. In the heart of the skyscrapers, there are old worn-down buildings, remnants from an age long past. Even today the film has relevance, as class struggles persist, and the rich attain more wealth on the backs of the working class.
For those interested in following the evolution of science fiction, and how “Metropolis” has influenced pop-culture, here are some noteworthy images:
- C3PO from “Star Wars” (1977) was modeled after the Machine Man
- The activation scene, where the Machine Man is given Maria’s face is very reminiscent in appearance to the “The Fifth Element” (1997) scene where LeeLoo is recreated from a recovered hand
- The M-Machine scene became the basis for Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video
- The Tower of Babel and other buildings are the inspiration for the Tyrell corporation building in “Blade Runner” (1982)