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 anime (which I must see sometime since I’m a huge anime 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.