A Science Fiction Classic May Now Be Complete!
Metropolis, the most important silent film in German history, can from this day on be considered to have been recovered! It was announced today that film archivists at the Museo del Cine Pablo C. Ducros Hicken in Buenos Aires have just recently discovered the complete 16mm negatives of Fritz Lang's 1927 film! The most complete restored version audiences have been able to see of this film has been the 2001 restoration which Kino Video released on DVD. This effort still did not contain nearly 25% of the film, despite the addition of scenes that were found and restored in Europe from the film version from Film museum Munich, the additional materials of the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv (Federal Archive / Filmarchive), Berlin, and partners of the Deutscher Kinematheksverbund (Association of German Film Archives).
ZEITmagazin gives this story of how the film managed to survive.
"Adolfo Z. Wilson, a man from Buenos Aires and head of the Terra film distribution company, arranged for a copy of the long version of “Metropolis” to be sent to Argentina in 1928 to show it in cinemas there. Shortly afterwards a film critic called Manuel Peña Rodríguez came into possession of the reels and added them to his private collection. In the 1960s Peña Rodríguez sold the film reels to Argentina’s National Art Fund – clearly nobody had yet realised the value of the reels. A copy of these reels passed into the collection of the Museo del Cine (Cinema Museum) in Buenos Aires in 1992, the curatorship of which was taken over by Paula Félix-Didier in January this year. Her ex-husband, director of the film department of the Museum of Latin American Art, first entertained the decisive suspicion: He had heard from the manager of a cinema club, who years before had been surprised by how long a screening of this film had taken. Together, Paula Félix-Didier and her ex-husband took a look at the film in her archive – and discovered the missing scenes."
This is truly great news! I will certainly be anxiously awaiting a re-release now from Kino, who were already in the planning stages of a Blu-Ray edition sometime in 2009. I can only imagine that release will be slated now to carry the restoration version of this new complete negative, and finally allow modern audiences to see this film only as German audiences were able to enjoy it over 80 years ago!