Shortly after Metropolis was released in 1927 it was acquired by Paramount Pictures, which drastically edited the film, cutting an hour of footage. For eighty years efforts have been made to locate the deleted scenes; in 2001 a partially reconstructed version was exhibited to the public. In 2008 an even more complete version was located in Argentina. Except for a few frames, the Argentinian version appears to be complete, and film critics viewing it believe it offers new insights into the original film.
For example, the “Thin Man,” who in the standard version appears to be a glorified butler to the city’s all-powerful founder, turns out instead to be a much more sinister figure, a combination of spy and detective. The founder’s personal assistant, who is fired in an early scene, also plays a greater role, helping the founder’s idealistic son navigate his way through the proletarian underworld.
The cumulative result is a version of “Metropolis” whose tone and focus have been changed. “It’s no longer a science-fiction film,” said Martin Koerber, a German film archivist and historian who supervised the latest restoration and the earlier one in 2001. “The balance of the story has been given back. It’s now a film that encompasses many genres, an epic about conflicts that are ages old. The science-fiction disguise is now very, very thin.”
Screening of the new version will begin this week in New York, and then in selected theaters around this country and in the UK and Ireland, followed in November by the release of a DVD.
Link. Photo credit Kino International.