I’ve seen it three times now and I still can’t quite believe that we’ve got the all-but-complete “Metropolis” in our hands after all these decades of trying to decode the hopelessly screwed-up Paramount edit. In the new Blu-ray from Kino that comes out this week, Marti Koerber’s restoration from the original camera negative looks ever more magnificent, and while the 25-minutes of rediscovered 16-millimeter footage from the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires can’t measure up to the main body of the film, it does have the perverse advantage of allowing us instantly to identify the Paramount edits, down to fleeting, individual shots.
In its almost integral form, “Metropolis” may still not be a masterpiece: a lot of the added material goes toward making a more questionably overt Christ figure out of Freder the Mediator (Gustav Frohlich), though the shot of Fritz Rasp’s Judas figure, The Thin Man, reading “The Metropolis Times” is worth the price of admission alone. Surprisingly, though, “Metropolis” turns out to be a much more polished and efficient entertainment in Lang’s edit, with a far more effective action-suspense finale and a more satisfying resolution to the love story than the supposedly more commercial Hollywood version has to offer.
Coincidentally, Lang’s 1955 “Moonfleet” has slipped out on the Warner Archive label, and while the transfer is nothing special (the colors seem just as dusty as they did on the old Laserdisc edition), it does demonstrate the unbroken continuity of Lang’s thematic concerns and visual ideas from Ufa to MGM. Once again, fathers and sons, absent mothers, underground chambers, strange stone idols . . .
My New York Times review is here.