Metropolis

Metropolis – Fritz Lang (1927) @ the Ipswich Film Theatre Trust

A science fiction classic, and one of cinemas groundbreaking films, Metropolis has influenced, amongst others, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, Blade Runner and Frankenstein. The film depicts the class struggle between a wealthy society of planners and thinkers, who live in luxury above ground, and the workers, who live underground toiling away to maintain the privileged lives of those up above.

The film had not existed for years in the version that director Fritz Lang completed. It was chopped and changed by distributors, censors and exhibitors, and key footage was lost. However, using 16mm materials discovered in a museum in Argentina a few years ago, and a huge restoration effort, this 2010 re-release reinstates key scenes taking the film back to – almost – its full and original length at 150 minutes.

The scenery (monumental skyscrapers and art-deco architecture) and special effects (which put those in many contemporary films to shame) are very very impressive but for me the runtime does not justify the very simple story line. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again I’m certainly pleased that I took the opportunity went to see it on a ‘big screen’.

One of the expensive films of its era the work is considered of such importance that it is listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s World Register as part of Germany’s documentary heritage.

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