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God must love Fritz Lang: Original Cut of Metropolis Found!!


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 02:30 PM

Awesome news: a copy of Fritz Lang's original, uncut version of Metropolis has been found, in Buenos Aires(!). The print, a 16mm dupe, was apparently brought to the region by Adolfo Wilson, a film distributor. After changing hands several times, it wound up in the Museo Del Cine, where it was forgotten or mistakenly presumed to be a well worn copy of one of Metropolis truncated international incarnations. Below is a link to the F.W. Murnau Stiftung's Press release (the English translation is a bit spotty, but you can get the gist of it):

Press Release

This link, in German, includes frame grabs from the recovered scenes.

Frame Grabs

They obviously need a lot of conservation and restoration, but it's thrilling to know that what was once thought lost forever will now be seen again! Not to mention, it gives us new hope that other lost masterpieces are waiting to be found again!

Best,
BR

Edited by Brian Rose, 02 July 2008 - 02:35 PM.

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#2 Nate Downes

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 02:49 PM

c'mon 1915 version of Golem....
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#3 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 06:39 AM

Thanks for this info! What a find! Like when they found a forgotten print of Fear and Desire in Australia!

I am looking forward to this restoration and reconstruction. I have 3 different copies of "Metropolis" in our video archive recorded over the years on German and French tv and copied from the videothek at Uni Freiburg, and the differences are huge.
Giorgio Moroder's version has - when watched now - really aged... ah, those 1980s..., i hope the new soundtrack for "Nibelungen" is based on the original score sheets.
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#4 David Auner aac

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 04:00 AM

Thanks for this info! What a find! Like when they found a forgotten print of Fear and Desire in Australia!


Yes indeed! I have only recently found a decent DVD version of the most recent restoration. And bought it for a rocking 30 Euros. but it's well worth the expense. Can't wait to see the original though!

Cheers, Dave
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#5 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 04:19 AM

30 Euroquid? Is it Region 2?

That is not cheap! I completely lost sight of the available DVD versions, and since I once splashed out on the Criterion edition of Tati's "Playtime" which plays-back with an odd strobe (surely due to my multinorm DVD player not being that univeral - cheap rig :) ), I became wary of buying expensive Region 1 DVD sets :( .

I would love to get my hands on a good copy of 'Der müde Tod' with original score - that film really impressed me when I first saw it on the HR.

Take care,

-Michael



O.T.P.S.: Just took delivery of two of Paul's own-bottled wines from Martin (looks prohibition-era like - looking forward to tasting it), but still no NPR though (needs further adjustment to the movement - but we saw it finished, and he repaired the Steenbeck in Basel, too)
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#6 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 12:03 PM

This proves my point, people should listen to the "Presumed lost, please check your attic" trivia found on IMDB on some films. :lol:
I think it's amazing, I would never have imagined that it would actually happen that we get a chance to view all those damn missing scenes from the movie. Oooh, how it annoyed me to have to imagine those scenes, and usually it's a whole subplot that's missing. Let's hope this now-complete version of Metropolis is released on DVD in the near future, I don't even care if its scratched and faded :)
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#7 Brian Rose

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 12:53 PM

According to one report I read (I'll have to search for a link), Kino will indeed be releasing an update with the new footage. They had previously announced a BD edition of Metropolis for 2009, and it looks like this is still on track. Should be pretty awesome. I wish/hope Kino gives it a treatment similar to Criterion's Mr. Arkadin. The history of the film almost demands it. You could have a copy of the Public Domain U.S. version, a copy of newly discovered complete cut, and then a third, comprehensive version that would combine all best extant footage.

I do hope they release the entire Argentine version, rather than just insert the missing scenes into the Murnau restoration. Since Lang shot with several cameras to produce a foreign and domestic negative, it stands to reason that the Argentine print could have entirely different takes of scenes, from different angles. It would be a fascinating study in editing to compare with the Murnau versions, as well as the U.S. hack job.

Best,
Brian R.
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 02:48 PM

Nah, if God really loved Fritz Lang, it would've been a 35mm IP or IN ;)
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#9 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 05:25 PM

I do hope they release the entire Argentine version, rather than just insert the missing scenes into the Murnau restoration. Since Lang shot with several cameras to produce a foreign and domestic negative, it stands to reason that the Argentine print could have entirely different takes of scenes, from different angles. It would be a fascinating study in editing to compare with the Murnau versions, as well as the U.S. hack job.


Are you sure? I never heard that he did that with his Silent movies, there was usually no need. Sound movies, yes, there's the french version of M and Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, I don't think Metropolis got that treatment, though. Correct me if I'm mistaken...
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#10 Brian Rose

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 10:29 PM

Nah, if God really loved Fritz Lang, it would've been a 35mm IP or IN ;)


With an attached letter by Fritz Lang (dated and notarized) specifying the proper projection speed! :)

Best,
BR
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#11 Brian Rose

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 11:10 PM

Are you sure? I never heard that he did that with his Silent movies, there was usually no need. Sound movies, yes, there's the french version of M and Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, I don't think Metropolis got that treatment, though. Correct me if I'm mistaken...


Actually, we're both right. Early sound pictures were indeed filmed several times in different languages, because sound processes in the early Talkie era was so pricey and complex that it was more cost effective to just shoot everything multiple times in different languages (Browning's "Dracula," and Dreyer's "Vampyr" being two such famous examples).

But it was also common practice during the silent era to capture a scene with two or more cameras. Often in behind the scenes or production photos from the era, you'll see several cameramen lined up, all capturing the same thing (apologies for the low res)

Silent Film Production

This was due to the fact that at the time, quality dupe stocks did not exist, and so prints had to be made directly from the camera negative. Depending on the popularity of the film, the negative might see a lot of wear and tear (legend has it that the original neg for "The Birth of a Nation" was literally worn out from the demand for prints). The solution was to produce two camera negatives for domestic and international markets, thereby halving the amount of use each negative would receive.
This meant then, that the domestic and international versions of any given film might differ radically from each other...different angles, different takes. Compare the 1925 version of Phantom of the Opera with the 1929 version. The surviving prints of the '25 version were likely derived from the domestic negative, while the '29 version was most likely produced from the international print (though this is still debated). The '29 was a re-release and was both shortened and reedited, but the scenes that remain the same between the two still differ. The unmasking scene, for example, uses different takes and different angles. It makes for a fascinating study in editorial decision-making.

Hence my argument for the inclusion of the entire Argentine print of "Metropolis." It is known that at least two camera negatives were produced, and the 2001 Murnau restoration was a hybrid of the best survivng material from the extant negs and prints, and therefore, not necessarily "pure," unlike the Argentine print, which all evidence suggests is 100% original (save for one scene that was lost due to it being at the end of a reel). It is a very real possibility that the new print, in addition to the scenes not found anywhere else (some 20-25 minutes worth) other shots and perhaps whole scenes and sequences could contain alternate takes and angles that do not exist ANYWHERE else.

Which is why I think Kino REALLY ought to release a definitive set. Metropolis has just about the most complex version history of any film apart from just about everything Orson Welles ever made, and any definitive DVD edition ought to emphasize this. It ought to include the U.S. version, which, corrupt though it may be, is the version the film that most of us were exposed to (myself included). It is in the public domain, though finding a quality print would be a challenge. Then, you could have the complete Argentine print, which could be called the "original" version, and finally, a definitive "restoration" combining all the best surviving elements to create the closest possible approximation to the film that premiered in 1927.

Well, I've gone on too long!

Best,
BR
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