Frequently Asked Questions
The story goes that Thea von Harbou and her husband, Fritz Lang, also the director of Metropolis, collaborated in 1924 to write the screenplay. Two years later, the story was serialized by von Harbou. From screenplay to serial to movie seems to be the correct sequence.
Cinefex, a quarterly magazine devoted to motion picture visual effects, ran an in-depth article that included this effects shot -- the transformation of Maria into the stylish female robot that gets reborn and takes its first faltering steps. This extended sequence was essentially an extremely elaborate multi-exposure shot. A miniature figure of the Machine-Man was created and covered in non-reflective black velvet and was aligned into a double-exposed shot of the seated Maria. Behind the double, greased circular reflective hoops were elevated up and down [one camera-pass at a time] by a forklift-like mechanism behind her, and the resulting blurred multiple-exposures enabled the over-exposed glowing rings to overlap.
It can only be speculated about which version of the movie the people who got inspired by it have seen. It is sure, however, that it could not have been the uncut version shown at the premiere in Berlin. With its length of 153 minutes (at a speed of 24p) the movie was just too long for most publishers. This is why American audiences were shown a version cut by 30 minutes. After Metropolis had been shown rather unsuccessfully in only one cinema in Berlin the movie was pulled out and re-released in a version which used the American cut as a starting point. This new version was then used as basis for other international exports. The cut material was probably destroyed instantly and the original version of the movie was lost. Lang himself called Metropolis a movie which no longer existed. It was not before the Seventies that film historian Enno Patalas tried to find those lost scenes. After years of international research, a version could be put together in 1986/87 in Munich which was still cut but a big step forward from the then usual 1937 Museum of Modern Art version. Due to intertitles which were true to the original as well as descriptive texts and still pictures which replaced missing sequences and a montage very close to the original, the Patalas version was the best one could get until 2001. This was the year of a DVD release, which relied a lot on the Patalas version but used modern reconstruction methods and better quality material. However, probably nobody believed in the reappearance of the premiere version.
And so the surprise was huge when in early 2008 a significantly longer version surfaced in Argentina. This sensational find could be traced back to a copy which an Argentinian publisher had bought after the movie's premiere in 1927 directly from Ufa in order to use it in his own country. Following contemporary habits this copy should have been destroyed directly after use, but due to lucky circumstances it did not share this fate with the other copies and ended up as part of a private collection. From there, it had been rented and shown to small groups of people for decades until the collection was given to the national art fund in Argentina. For fire safety reasons, the highly inflammable 35mm nitro rolls were copied onto 16mm and then destroyed. More than thirty years later the negative came to Germany, where Anke Wilkening (Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung) and Martin Koerber (Deutsche Kinemathek) used it as basis for the newest reconstruction. On the 12th of February 2010, more than 80 years after the original premiere, the now almost complete reconstruction of Metropolis was shown in the Old Opera House in Frankfurt and on the Berlinale.
Fritz Lang wanted to establish peace between socialist and communist movements in Germany and upper classes and entrepreneurs. In 1920's Germany, KPD (Communist Party of Germany) had a lot of support.