The restored version of 2001 was based on a digital restoration at 2K resolution from the best available sources then known to exist. The image quality far surpassed anything seen since the original release of the film.
No optical printing system existed at the time, so to create a matte effect, a large mirror was placed at an angle to reflect a piece of artwork while live footage was projected onto the reverse. To expose the projected footage, the silvering on the back of the mirror had to be scraped off in strategically appropriate places. One mistake would ruin the whole mirror. This was done for each separate shot that had to be composited in this manner. This procedure was developed by Eugen Schüfftan and is known as the "Schufftan Process."
For decades, all that survived of "Metropolis" were an incomplete original negative and copies of shortened, re-edited release prints; over a quarter of the film was believed lost. However, in July 2008 Germany's 'ZEITmagazin' reported the discovery (at the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken) of a 16mm dupe negative copy of the original full-length 35mm export print, which had been sent to Argentina in 1928. Examining the reels in Buenos Aires, cinema experts realised that they contained almost all of the missing sequences (around 25 minutes-worth of footage, predominantly those involving the Thin Man who spies on Freder, and worker 11811 heading to and from Yoshiwara). Additionally, in October 2008 it was announced that another (hopefully) early copy in the obsolete 9.5mm format had been held in the University of Chile's film library, intentionally mislabelled to avoid destruction during 1973's military coup. It is as yet unknown if this holds any further viewable footage. After almost 80 years, the film is now practically complete, barring sections such as Joh Fredersen's fight with Rotwang.
The latest cut of the film, incorporating the extra material from the Argentinian print, premiered at the Berlinale Festival in Berlin on 12th February 2010. It utilises the original Gottfried Huppertz score.
The connection of this film to the Nazi regime is quite remarkable. Thea von Harbou, who was Fritz Lang's wife, was an ardent and early supporter of the party. Not only Adolf Hitler, but all the inner circle were entranced by the film and considered it as a sort of social blueprint. Lang, of course, was Jewish but the Fuehrer offered him a pass for this, very rare in Nazi Germany. He fled to America.
In Oct of 1984 the world premiere of Digital sound in a motion picture theatre took place, using Moroder's digitally recorded version of Metropolis. Orchestrated by John Allen of High Performance Stereo, the event took place in the Magestic Century Plaza Theatre in Los Angeles and was an invitation only event consisting of a few hundred sound professional in the industry. Since the technology of placing Digital sound on film did not exist at the time, the 5 track discrete audio was recorded on an Industrial Sony 3324 digital tape recorder and synced with the picture. The sound system used to present this historic event was John Allen's HPS-4000 system and had the acoustic power equal to 10 Symphony Orchestras.
Much to Fritz Lang's dismay, Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbels were big fans of the film. Goebbels met with Lang and told him that he could be made an honorary Aryan despite his Jewish background. Goebbels told him "Mr Lang, we decide who is Jewish and who is not". Lang left for Paris that very night.
Standing on the deck of the SS Deutschland in 1924 in New York Harbor with his producer friend Erich Pommer, director Fritz Lang found great inspiration in the neon-lit towers of stone and glass. This image would form the bedrock of Metropolis.