Two extraordinary events combined to find me in the Piccadilly cinema in North Adelaide, watching a silent film from 1927.
The unexpected discovery of several dusty reels in a small museum in Buenos Aires in 2008 provided us with most of the footage cut from the original version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. An expert team of film archivists has been working at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in Germany to painstakingly reconstruct and restore the film.
Two years ago, the Adelaide Film Event commissioned the New Pollutants to create a new score for Metropolis; this year, they extended the score to cover the additional 23 minutes of the restored, definitive, version.
Having seen, and marvelled at, fragments of the film in the past, I couldn’t resist the chance to view the full version — with the new score, performed live, as part of this year’s film event.
The soundtrack was sublime: announcements over the speakers in the factory scenes made me forget that this was a silent movie! The restored scenes made for a more interesting story, and the restored film was astonishing.
Ah, those biplanes flying between buildings, under walkways! Rotwang and his robot Maria, and her debauched, mesmeric dancing. Angular, debauched, seductive and yet somehow wrong.
Plots! Revolution! Super science! Madness, and Redemption. Even the classic rooftop chase after the villain.
It’s splendid that the film has been restored: if you get the chance to see it, do so. You won’t regret it.