Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis (1984)

Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis (1984), directed by Fritz Lang.

That's the title on the disc case. The IMDB doesn't have an entry apart from the 1927 original. I reviewed the Kino Complete Metropolis (1927). See that for thoughts on the story.

This edition, also from Kino, is a shorter 83 minute cut, assembled from all the bits they could find at the time, with some stills inserted to help flesh out the story. The restoration is not as good as the Complete version, but it is quite watchable, if dark and lacking a lot of detail. As a first introduction for people who don't watch silent films, it might be the better choice. The shorter cut is a science fiction fable, where the longer one is a more diffuse narrative.

They replaced some intertitles with subtitles, applied tinting and rotoscoped color into a few scenes. All these techniques were commonly done to b&w films in the silent era, although not necessarily to Metropolis. The big change is the new techno-pop score, although the film has had other alternative scores in it's history.

You can argue with the choices. Pop music often has only ephemeral appeal, but I confess that that the nostalgia rush is strong in this one for me. I was barely aware of Moroder at the time. I knew he produced Donna Summer and figured he was some sort of disco synthesizer king. But he did much more, and as I wrote in my review of Cat People (1982), for me his music is kind of a background theme for that era.

Compared to other modifications to films like chopping them up or altering the aspect ratio, providing new music to a silent film does not seem like a severe crime. Some silents had no score, but even for those that did, like Metropolis, the score does not seem "sacred" to me. I'm glad we have the original, but a lot of music has appeared since then that better fits the dystopian vision. Would you prefer other selections? Making a new soundtrack is a game anyone can play.

He adds some simple sound effects as well. It's amazing how much they enhance the imagery, adding space to the cityscape.

Available on Blu-ray. The disc includes The Fading Image (1984), a 17 minute documentary on the restoration effort and a plea for film preservation. Neither Netflix nor ClassicFlix have the DVD or Blu-ray.

In the thumbnails below I have tried not to have too much overlap with those used for the Kino Complete Metropolis (1927) review.