Fritz Lang’s Metropolis needs little introduction. Now regarded as one of the most influential films of all time, certainly the best known German film, the project was UFA’s biggest production of the period, intended to rival the sheer scale and creative ambition of Hollywood.
The setting is 2026 and the city of the future, where the rich enjoy a metropolitan life of luxury in contrast to the poor who work in hard labour beneath ground to keep the city moving.
The tense balance between these two worlds is stunningly articulated through Thea Von Harbou’s proto-political script and Lang’s audacious vision of the future, with production design and visual effects which pre-empt so many science fiction films made since.
Since 1926, the film has been at various times re-cut, withdrawn, rescored and most extraordinarily ’re-versioned‘ in the 1980s with a synth musical score. In 2008 several dusty reels of footage, believed to have been lost, irretrievably so – were discovered in a small museum in Buenos Aires. Since then, an expert team of film archivists have been working at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in Germany to painstakingly reconstruct and restore Lang’s film to create the version screening here this weekend.
The screening will feature a temporary, high quality live recording of the orchestra’s performance that was premiered at the Berlinale in February. The full theatrical release in the UK and Eire will be accompanied by a studio recording of the same orchestral score.