2011-02-02 update: Updated link. Thanks to Jack Moore.

Yes­ter­day I watched the new Kino ver­sion of Met­ro­pol­is. No, I’m not talk­ing about the animé (which I must see some­time since I’m a huge animé fan), but the 1927 Fritz Lang cine­mat­ic mas­ter­piece. The movie is silent and in black and white, and for the time it was very cut­ting-edge in terms of tech­no­logy, plot, budget and over­all size. Unfor­tu­nately, the ori­gin­al 1927 ver­sion no longer exists, but this Kino ver­sion is the most com­plete to date, includ­ing the excel­lent Gottfried Hup­pertz orches­tral score (re-recor­ded to make it sound bet­ter). The score was clearly writ­ten for the movie; orches­tral sounds sub­sti­tute very well for the lack of speech and sound effects.

The last time I had seen Met­ro­pol­is was when I was a child. Although I did­n’t under­stand much, I was freaked out by the plot and the silent nature of the movie. I recall hav­ing a few night­mares about robots and I could not even look at the video cov­er (which fea­tured a pic­ture of the Machine-Man robot) after that.

The plot itself was very inter­est­ing. It’s amaz­ing what can be done without any speech (there was some ‘speech’, but it was just text on the screen). Hav­ing been released dur­ing the height of the capitalist/​communist struggle for polit­ic­al suprem­acy in Europe, this movie was uni­ver­sally panned by both sides for sup­posedly sup­port­ing one side or the other.

The main theme of the movie is a single phrase: “The medi­at­or between head and hands is the heart.” You’ll need to see the movie in its entirety to under­stand what that means. It is a very power­ful theme, as is the imagery employed: mech­an­ic­al machinery; a small army of uni­formed, undif­fer­en­ti­ated work­ers; clocks and watches; and many others.

All-in-all, I loved this movie. It’s a shame that the ori­gin­al no longer exists, but Kino expertly craf­ted the most ‘com­plete’ ver­sion they could. Miss­ing scenes were sum­mar­ised on the screen in text.

Metropolis / Sridhar Dhanapalan by Sridhar Dhanapalan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
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