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Lang, the visionary German film-maker, cinematic tyrant and creator of movie genres, worked for over a year on his most expensive movie, the dystopian sci-fi epic Metropolis, only to see it exhibited around the world in shortened, differently edited versions. Despite the spectacular sets and the dazzling special effects, its allegory of a future where an exploited underclass works in subterranean machine halls to support a small, pampered aristocracy living in palatial skyscrapers, received a mixed reception. The general public was puzzled, the critics, among them HG Wells, often scornful.
But Metropolis – shown by film societies to excited cinephiles in tattered, faded, incomplete copies, and its familiar stills reproduced in books – went on to become one of the landmarks of world cinema, among the last of the silent classics. It influenced generations of film-makers and musicians, providing iconic images of oppression and liberation. Restoring the picture to its original 150 minutes became the holy grail of film archivists. The historian David Bordwell picked it as one of the greatest 150 films in the 2001 symposium Film: The Critics’ Choice, observing that “it survives in several variations and a complete version may never be reconstructed”. But he added: “Nonetheless, all the footage we have displays mesmerising inventiveness.”
Then in 2008 a version, probably struck from the German original, wasdiscovered in Buenos Aires, virtually complete though frayed and damaged. It had long been in the hands of a collector who respected Lang’s work. The additional 25 minutes elucidated much that was obscure in other prints. Moreover, we find it easier than earlier audiences and critics to accept the mixture of expressionism, melodrama and German romanticism, to go along with the abrupt switches in style and to accept the apparent conflict of ideological positions. Over 60 years ago Siegfried Kracauer wrote in From Caligari to Hitler: “Metropolis was rich in subterranean content that, like contraband, had crossed the borders of consciousness without being questioned.”
The film is accompanied by a reconstruction of Gottfried Huppertz’s 1927 score, and the two Blu-ray discs feature a commentary by the American historians David Kalat and Jonathan Rosenbaum (whose knowledge is encyclopaedic, though both talk a little too much), a fascinating documentary on the restoration, and also the controversial 1984 Giorgio Moroder version with its eclectic score and sound effects. It should be in everyone’s film library.
lansir dari: theguardian.com – Metropolis Review