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IRON MAN 2, TOY STORY 3, A-TEAM, ECLIPSE, LAST AIRBENDER... Bah! Full Restored METROPOLIS in theaters this Summer!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with the most anticipated theatrical release of Summer 2010. This isn't meant to be an insult to the incoming collection of studio spectacles... But to see the complete METROPOLIS by Fritz Lang? Hell, I spent several hours today staring at the streaming METROPOLIS premiere that Merrick embeded on here earlier yesterday. Sure, I was aggravated by not having a full screen 1080p downloadable... but I'm also realistic. This restoration represents decades of hopes and dreams of film geeks for the better part of the last century til now. Kino has said that there will be a Summer theatrical premiere around the world with a DVD/BLU RAY Release to follow this Fall/X-Mas season. That's right, this Christmas we get this baby on Blu - and at home!!! This is spectacular news. We'll keep you up to date with the details as they emerge further. And here's our wonderful spy from Berlin with the breakdown of this restored METROPOLIS:

Hello Harry and company, I've written up a few things concerning the new Metropolis that screened/ aired last night. If you use this, call me “the Hel with it” ------------------- “Wo ist der, dessen Kleider Sie tragen?” (Where's the man whose clothes you're wearing?) I've seen Metropolis in a new light! So, Metropolis has screened in HD, in full, on my television set tonight and I just wanted to give my two cents on what turned out to be a pretty moving evening. I really hope you guys get to see it ASAP in the States because it's the most satisfying version of this classic to date. Real sorry you had to watch dancing, freezing Germans instead (although that can make for a good show). Long story short: Metropolis finally feels completed, not under (re)construction. If you want to know what's new in this version, skip to WHAT'S NEW because I want to put the version in context first. The guys at Murnau and Deutsche Cinematek deserve their dues and our gratitude. And if you want SPOILERS, they're at the very end. After the film, there was a documentary chronicling the different restorations over the years of this 1927 film that Paramount had butchered after the German release bombed with audiences (apparently, the film made back 2% of its cost on first release). So, basically, film historians have been trying to restore it to its initial length and glory since before the Second World War, except for Georgio Moroder who turned it into something as personal as it was questionable. Through finds, from Russian prints to Australian ones, from set photographs in Paris to the original, unabridged dialogues written for German film censors' approval (apparently, only the English translation had survived, so it had to be retranslated into German), they pieced the puzzle but gaping holes subsisted. Having worked in film restoration on works that dated from the early thirties, I can tell you that restoration is a costly business which was more or less irreversible before the digital nineties (and I can tell you nitrate film cuts hurt like paper cuts if the paper had acid blood). But you find new film elements throughout the years and that's what happened in this instance. The criticized restored Vertigo color scheme was based on a vintage bucket of paint that GM found for one of the cars used in the movie, for example. Anyway, in 2008, a print of Metropolis was found in Buenos Aires. What was it? A 16mm negative made in the seventies from a 35mm first-generation positive. The Argentinian archives didn't want nitrate prints anymore in the 70s because of their Inglorious Basterdness, so they transferred their films on 16mm because they couldn't afford 35mm. Unfortunately, the print was already almost fifty years old and apparently, wasn't cleaned up before transfer. So all the flaws of that positive have been printed into the negative: they're part of the image. Which is problematic, to say the least. At times, it looked as though the film was being projected on a piece of wood, with thin vertical veins all over. The choice not to over-digitalize was consciously made by the restorers but perhaps future algorithms may be able to address the issue in coming years. Point is: Metropolis is complete. This print was made when the Argentinian distributor visited Germany and it hadn't been trimmed by Paramount yet for the US market. It wasn't the premiere cut, which apparently ran 210 minutes (according to IMDB), but my HDD says it's 146 minutes long, not 150. I have no idea what the frame-rate was, sorry. Anyway, that's still a good extra 20 minutes from the last restoration. Personally, I don't believe there ever was a premiere cut that was an hour longer than this one but that's just me. WHAT'S NEW: I'm not giving a synopsis, you already know the film if you're reading this and I won't spoil the additions until the SPOILER paragraph at the end. If you haven't seen it, know that Blade Runner, Star Wars, Back to the Future and just about any SF film pays homage to Metropolis graphically. Thematically, it's more like a cross between The Time Machine, Frankenstein and Battleship Potemkine while staying its own pioneering thing. It makes Griffith and Gance films look small and every shot looks like it cost a fortune and it did. I'm not sure what restoration of the film I saw last time and I had never seen it in HD but the image of the non-Argentinian footage was quite phenomenal for a film that's 83 years old. A couple of flickers, a couple of soft spots here and there, but an overall uniformity that's really impressive and defined. It's Blu-Ray material as it was broadcast in 1080p (or 1080i... not sure). Anyway, non-Argentinian footage is top notch and the film's elaborate lightings come through beautifully and subtly. Now for the Argentinian footage. We have lots of minor modifications: extra shots, extended scenes and whole sequences with mostly secondary characters. Secondary but key to plot advancement and characters' relationships, notably between Joh Fredersen and Rotwang, the mad scientist. You find out why the latter hates the former so much. More in SPOILER section. Again, the Argentinian print looks like a movie projected on wood, which is odd, but better than nothing. I remember the first time I saw this as a kid and how frustrated I was by the butchered ending. I really felt cheated that this film's story wasn't complete (I was nine), like it was a cop-out. Now Metropolis is complete, with additions that give it a rationale and an overall rhythm that's much nicer in the second half. The live score was really neat. Apparently, they also used the complete manuscripts of the score to find the tempo Lang had originally intended. Anyway, the score gave a greater coherence to the varying image qualities from the two different sources. Very dramatic music for the most part, borrowing cues from Dies Iera and La Marseillaise (for the workers' revolt, naturally). I wasn't a huge Metropolis fan but an admirer. I didn't love it the way I loved Sunrise, City Lights or Nosferatu but close. That might have changed. In this complete form and in this stellar shape (overall), Metropolis is a true wonder to behold, especially for any Science-Fiction or Art Deco fans. And from now on, no one will have to envision scenes from a card: Lang's director's cut is here. For the record, Lang wasn't sure about the ending's potency and blamed his wife for its naivety. Until everyone told him how great it was in the sixties. Now someone find the Magnificent Ambersons test screening cut already! ...and the fabled six-hour edit of Thin Red Line. Apologies on the length of this write-up, I'm exhausted and enthusiastic. Faithfully submitted, The Hel with it SPOILERS 11811 is Georgy's worker number, three numbers in common with THX1138, coincidence? Three brand new sequences as far as I can tell, many extensions and some alternate shots (Lang filmed each shot thrice and edited from there). Four extended characters: three men and a ghost. Josaphat and his evolution from yes-man to revolutionary after he's fired by Joh Fredersen and has to go below. Georgy, the guy who replaces Freder as a rich kid and who choses to do rich kid's stuff. The Tall Guy that Joh Fredersen sends to find his son in the underground city. He trails Georgy, finds Josaphat and is pretty scary even though he looks like a desperado in drag on some shots (too much make-up). This is the most significant addition, like Bond's Jaws with brains. Hel. Like hell missing an l. Which is probably why Paramount cut all of “her scenes.” She's not a ghost per se, she's a driving presence and a cool piece of set. She's the reason Rotwang hates Joh Fredersen. Maybe referenced in 2001 with HAL because she does become robotic in a sense... Extended scenes: Garden scene Children's rescue (quite extended) Clash of classes Fight on top of the cathedral Other notables: Double-Direction Individual Perpetual Elevators (DDIPE) are cool. I hope someone doesn't have patents for them. The Hel mausoleum is a great set that needs to be seen. END SPOILERS
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