I confess my temporary insanity: the news that missing footage from Fritz Lang's Metropolis had been discovered in Argentina, as detailed in the Guardianand elsewhere a few days ago, did not initially make my head spin. (I blame the blasted summer heat, which has made my brains melt.) Shaking off a weekend of lazy moviewatching has now convinced me that this may be the most significant movie news of the year.
Metropolis has always struck me as a classic more to be admired than loved -- difficult to follow, easy to be amazed by the stunning visuals, and in general, to be awed by its vision of a future society gone hellishly wrong. Roger Ebert acknowledged that the plot "defies common sense, but its very discontinuity is a strength." He noted that Lang's original version had not been seen for many years, "chopped by distributors, censors and exhibitors, key footage was lost" but that didn't keep it from influencing everything from Alphaville to Blade Runner to Dark City to Gotham City.
David Hudson detailed the discovery at GreenCine Daily and, as usual, compiled numerous links to coverage of the story. His updates indicate that the footage represents about 85% of what was considered lost forever, and that the 16mm copy is "in terrible shape," though there are high hopes that good quality images can be drawn from the material. As David wrote: "Still!"
Peter Bradshaw wonders if the missing footage would "explain" the movie or "just make it more baroque, more mysterious, and more mad than ever"? It looks like we'll all be able to see for ourselves, eventually. As Glenn Kenny writes, what's next? The Magnificent Ambersons? Greed? What's your dream restored classic?