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.

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