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Lost Footage to Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" Silent Feature


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#1 Ira Ratner

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 06:38 PM

I thought this was pretty intense--having just started learning about silent film classics and seeing this. (Read it all if you have the time, but scroll down to the bold subhead "Rediscovery."

http://en.wikipedia....tropolis_(film)

Controversy, arguments, conjecture, and missing footage has plagued this film forever, but only LAST WEEK, they think they found a complete print in Argentina.
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#2 Gus Sacks

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 07:20 PM

I, for one, am extremely excited to finally see the finished film someday. I regard it as a masterpiece as is, but to think it could be that much better...
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 07:59 PM

It'll be nice to have those "stills" inserted into the film replaced with the actual moving images! It was a HUGE breakthrough when they brought back the original score, now I'm very excited to finally see some of those lost scenes!
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#4 Ira Ratner

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:20 PM

I had no idea about the controversy that surrounded this and its re-releases.

Like, Lang lived a really long time, correct, but actually hated the film? Yet there's still a debate on what speed he actually shot it at, and what speed the theaters played at it. Seems that this should all be common knowledge by now.

And the fact that they found original scores seems to be a debatable point, because the musicians were instructed to play it as written or speed it up based on how it was presented in the theaters. In other words, that the time signatures found on those printed scores from the era often didn't really mean anything--except for MAYBE the way the director intended it.

Which I guess means everything, actually.

Metropolis always fascinated me, and I admit, the SOUND version. But now that I'm learning the history, I HAVE to learn more and pay closer attention to it. One of the disputed claims on Wikipedia is that it cost 7 million whatever marks they used back then, the equivalent of $200 million U.S. in 2005.

I find that hard to believe, unless the model-maker maid a FORTUNE.
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#5 Ira Ratner

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:40 PM

They're saying it will take a couple of YEARS to restore:

http://news.yahoo.co...metropolis_dc_1

They had better hurry, because I am NOT a young man.


("Made" for my above post. Not "Maid." Just another senior moment.)

Edited by Ira Ratner, 07 July 2008 - 09:45 PM.

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#6 Zamir Merali

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 08:00 PM

They just spent a few years making the latest edition from a bunch of 35 mm prints. Why would it take them a few more years to add in about 20 minutes from a 16mm print. It really is a great movie. One thing that always gets me when watching a very old movie is the thought that everybody who worked on, acted in or produced the movie is gone and dead. But the movie they made is still in great condition and tells the story they wanted to tell. It will never change...
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#7 Brian Rose

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 08:23 PM

They're saying it will take a couple of YEARS to restore:

http://news.yahoo.co...metropolis_dc_1

They had better hurry, because I am NOT a young man.


("Made" for my above post. Not "Maid." Just another senior moment.)


No worries. I emailed a rep with Kino, which released the Murnau restoration of Metropolis back in 2001, and he confirmed to me that they would be re-releasing the film WITH the new footage, on both SD DVD and BD!

And if you think about it, the process this time around will be much quicker. Before, they had to conduct a worldwide search, as well as research the film in order to create a best approximation of the original. That and they had to restore footage from multiple sources for a final product that ran in excess of two hours. For the purpose of this new version, their work is much simpler. One source with the Murnau foundation who has seen the new print reported that it matched up perfectly with their "reference print" which had all the known scenes, and black leader in the place of the missing footage. So it is a matter of inserting the new clips in their proper places, and do any possible restoration. Sadly, it does not appear that much can be done. The 16mm reduction neg has less detail, and is fairly beaten up. Hopefully a wet gate transfer might ameliorate some of the scratches, but there is no chance that the 16mm will cleanly intercut with the rest, which is 35mm. The difference in resolution is too great. It is a shame that the archive didn't preserve the original 35mm nitrate print in their possession, or make a straight 35 to 35 dupe, rather than a 16mm reduction print. But it was standard practice at the time to dispose of decomposing nitrate, which would have been a threat to their whole collection. It was fortunate they made a copy at all, considering Metropolis' popularity, and the availability of prints (albeit severely truncated). They did more than they had to, and I'll take a beaten up 16mm print over those stills and blanks spots in the film any day!

Best,
BR

Edited by Brian Rose, 10 July 2008 - 08:27 PM.

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#8 Ira Ratner

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:20 PM

Zamir--I have the same fascination with this stuff as well--although it might be considered a morbid one. The fact that everyone associated with the film is long, long gone...but the film lives on.

And Brian, in the next to nothing reading I've done on the silent era in the last few weeks, no one at all thought that any of these films had any value at ALL after their initial theatrical run. They sure didn't envision TV and DVD to come, and since they didn't even look upon what they were doing as "real" art, it went in the garbage.
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#9 Nate Downes

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 06:51 AM

Indeed, hearing of this gives me hope that somewhere they'll find a copy of the 1915 Golem and the 1917 sequel to it, as I really want to see the original Horror trilogy reunited again.
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#10 John King

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 09:01 PM

Nate,

RE: The Golem. I have a DVD copy of the Paul Wegener film "Der Golem, Wie Er in Die Welt Kamm" (The Golem, How He Came Into the World) I think this film has a 1920 release date on it (correct me if I am wrong) Also I was think that this was the second of the Golem movies. Is this incorrect? I am aware of two other titles (agai bare with me and correct me if I am wrong) "Der Golem" (the original) and "Der Golem und der Tanzerin" (The Golem and the Dancer").

As for "Metropolis", I am a big fan of the genre, of silent films, and of this title in particular and I was not even aware that there was missing footage! WOW! That's another reason why I love this site so much! I learn somethig new all the time here!
Thanks and God Bless!
JMK
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