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Metropolis film poster
The complete version premieres during the 60th Berlinale film festival

The whole story

January 21, 2010

For film buffs, it was a miracle that the scenes cut from Fritz Lang's 1927 film "Metropolis" turned up 80 years later. The film has been completely restored and the public now has access to previously unseen footage.

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Newly discovered and restored portions of Germany's most famous silent film, "Metropolis," were available for viewing by the public for the first time on Thursday at Berlin's Film and Television Museum.

Missing footage from director Fritz Lang's 1927 science fiction classic, thought to be lost forever, was found in Buenos Aires in 2008. Since then, experts from the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Wiesbaden have painstakingly restored the damaged reels and inserted the rediscovered scenes, which compose about 25 minutes.

The entire restored version of "Metropolis" is set to premiere on February 12, during the 60th Berlinale film festival in the German capital. It will be projected onto the Brandenburg Gate, with simultaneous gala screenings in both Frankfurt and Berlin.

As of Thursday, about 10 of the 25 minutes of footage found in Argentina can be viewed at the Film and Television Museum as part of the exhibition "The complete Metropolis."

The museum show, which runs through April 25, also includes pages from the original screenplay, costume sketches, props, the musical film score and other original items.

"'Metropolis," with its unusual visionary power, is representative of the long German film tradition," German Minister for Culture and Media Bernd Neumann said Wednesday at the opening of the Berlin exhibition.

Scene from 'Metropolis'
"Metropolis" portrays the 21st century as cold, mechanized, and inhumanImage: picture alliance / dpa

Box office flop turned classic

The "vision" depicted in the epic is cold and foreboding - a futuristic, mechanized society caught in a tumultuous class struggle. At the time of production, "Metropolis" was the most expensive film ever made.

It premiered on January 10, 1927 in its two-and-a-half-hour version, but flopped initially and was later shortened by nearly a third.

These cut scenes, some of which can be viewed at the Film and Television Museum, lend some of the minor characters a bit more weight, according to exhibition curator Kristina Jaspers.

During the restoration process, each negative was scanned and touched up digitally. The musical score was consulted to determine the order in which the new sections should be inserted.

"Metropolis" was the first film to be entered into UNESCO's Memory of the World Register, which was set up to preserve significant cultural achievements.

Click on the link below for an interview with one of the film restorers involved in the "Metropolis" project.

AFP/dpa/epd/kjb

Editor: Louisa Schaefer

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