Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis, is one of the greatest science fiction films ever made – a landmark of the silent film era. It tells the tale of a magnificent utopia and the underground workers who labor away constantly to give the city its power, and of Freder, who vows to unite the lowly workers and the wealthy inhabitants of Metropolis and encourage them to work together. A young woman named Maria inspires Freder on his quest, and the two fall in love. On their journey, they will encounter evil robots, mad scientists, and the master of Metropolis – Freder’s father, Joh.
For years, Metropolis was said to be incomplete, as most of the footage was lost due to censorship. In 2010, a complete version of the film was found and was released and distributed through Kino-Lorber. However, there is one version of Metropolis that will forever be remembered as a cult oddity for the MTV generation.
In 1984, disco sensation Giorgio Moroder decided to unleash his version of Metropolis on to the public. Using color tinting, an original musical score featuring new songs from some of the top artists of the era, and new footage of the film from a recently discovered print, Moroder introduced a classic film to a new generation.
When the film was released, some loved it while others loathed it. Some found it unnecessarily kitschy, yet others immediately took to Moroder’s unique approach to the material. The film comes to life from the opening credits onward. Moroder utilizes subtitles instead of intertitles to speed up the pacing, and makes fascinating use of rotoscoping in some of the most pivotal scenes. You could say that Moroder transformed the film into an extended music video, which would be accurate. It is immensely watchable from start to finish.
At the time of its release, this was considered the most complete version of Metropolis available. Despite the harsh criticism, people grew to accept it based on this fact alone. In light of the incredible discovery from 2010, we now have the definitive version of Metropolis. It is a wonder to behold. A dream come true for fans of film.
Looking back on it now, there is a definite camp factor to Moroder’s version that cannot be denied. The music dates the film and seems incredibly awkward at times, but it is still a curiosity that is worth watching.
I recommend Kino-Lorber’s excellent Blu-ray of Giorgio Moroder’s Metropolis, which has been meticulously restored from one of the original 35mm prints.