(via Dirty Harry)
The cinematic gods took away SILENT LIGHT, but they have given us back METROPOLIS. According to Die Zeit magazine, Fritz Lang’s original 1927 German release cut has been found in Argentina (I am not kidding … maybe it fled there after World War 2).¹
After examining the film the three experts are certain: The find from Buenos Aires is a real treasure, a worldwide sensation. Metropolis, the most important silent film in German history, can from this day on be considered to have been rediscovered. …
Among the footage that has now been discovered, according to the unanimous opinion of the three experts that ZEITmagazin asked to appraise the pictures, there are several scenes which are essential in order to understand the film: The role played by the actor Fritz Rasp in the film for instance, can finally be understood. Other scenes, such as for instance the saving of the children from the worker’s underworld, are considerably more dramatic. In brief: “Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s most famous film, can be seen through new eyes.”, as stated by Rainer Rother, Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum and head of the series of retrospectives at the Berlinale.
(I initially wrote this as part of the post above, but it just became too long for an aside.)
As I noted, METROPOLIS was the first silent film I can really say I saw, in the form of the video version released in the late-1980s with a Giorgio Moroder soundtrack. It’s common to deride that score, especially among purists, but it didn’t bother me for a bunch of reasons. METROPOLIS is a futuristic sci-fi movie anyway even now and not the remotest bit realistic, so period-music purists, with whom I’m in theoretical sympathy, don’t even have a prima facie case.
As for the use of songs with words, easily Moroder’s most controversial choice — first of all, if memory serves only about half the running time had vocal accompaniment; Moroder just as often used synthesizer music. And anyway, I don’t think you listen to nondiegetic rock-music lyrics that closely anyway, at least in a non-musical. What you remember, at least while watching a movie this singular, is a few hooks and the singer’s voice as pure sound. I remember as if it were yesterday my neck tingling to Bonnie Tyler’s “Here She Comes” and Tyler’s raspy voice ripping into the chorus as the false Maria enters the frame.