Monday, May 10, 2010

A problem named Maria

Just watched the miraculously restored "Metropolis" of Fritz Lang (1927) - miraculous because the 25 minutes cut from the original by American distributors had been thought lost for eighty years, and only recently rediscovered (in Buenos Aires!). The reconstructed film, complete with original soundtrack and titles, is almost unbearably gripping - the graininess of the recovered images (like Maria and the children drowning in the flooded worker's city, above) makes it feel like historical footage! Didn't all this actually happen?
The only other time I've seen the film was in the 1980s when someone put together a techno soundtrack for it. (I remember going to see it with my mother in a movie theater with surround-sound - in Fashion Valley, I think I recall.) Then it was prophetic proto-cyberpunk sci-fi ancestor of "Blade Runner," but the restored print seems very much a critique of its own time, Christianity (I'd forgotten) alive as a human hope if no longer a faith. But it's impossible not also to think about the decades to follow in Germany; socialist revolution indeed averted, but.

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