Fritz Lang

It. tit.: Metropolis; Sog.: Thea von Harbou; Scen.: Thea von Harbou; F.: Karl Freund, Günther Rittau; Scgf.: Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht; Co.: Anne Willkomm; Eff. spec.: Eugene Schüfftan; Sculture: Walter Schultze-Mittendorf; Mu.: Gottfried Huppertz; Int.: Brigitte Helm (Maria, la donna robot), Gustav Fröhlich (Freder Fredersen), Alfred Abel (Johan “Joh” Fredersen), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (C.A. Rotwang, l’inventore), Fritz Rasp (lo ‘Smilzo’), Theodor Loos (Josaphat/Joseph), Heinrich George (Groth), Olaf Storm (Jan), Hanns Leo Reich (Marinus), Heinrich Gotho (il maestro di cerimonia), Grete Berger, Olly Böheim, Ellen Frey, Lisa Gray, Rose Lichtenstein, Helene Weigel (operaie), Margarethe Lanner (donna nella vettura/donna del giardino dei piaceri), Max Dietze, Georg John, Walter Kühle, Arthur Reinhard, Erwin Vater (operai), Fritz Alberti (il ‘creatore’), Beatrice Garga, Anny Hintze, Margarethe Lanner, Helen von Münchhofen, Hilde Woitscheff (le ragazze dei ‘giardinie sterni’); Prod.: UFA-Universum-Film AG, Berlin; Pri. pro.: 13 marzo 1927. 35mm. Lunghezza della versione restaurata nel 2010.: 4070 m. D.: 148’ a 24 f/s. Bn. Musiche composte da Gottfried Huppertz e dirette da Frank Strobel, eseguite dall’Orchestra del Teatro Comunale. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The problematic condition of the found material posed the biggest challenge during restoration. The source for the formerly missing shots and scenes was a 16mm dupe negative obtained from a heavily-worn 35mm release print from Argentina. Despite the state-ofthe-art technologies used in the restoration, the photographic quality of the newly found 30 minutes differs from the 2001 version. Music has played a significant role in restoring the original editing and Gottfried Huppertz’ score, together with original reviews and censorship papers, constituted the main source for the restoring team which included Martin Koerber, Frank Strobel and Anke Wilkening. This forgotten, unique version of Metropolis was found by Fernando Martín Peña and Paula Félix-Didier, director of the Museo del Cine, who having realised immediately the relevance of their discovery contacted their German colleagues in June 2008. The first examination of the materials took place in Wiesbaden in July 2009.


The mutilation of this monumental film began immediately after its premiere at the Berlin Ufa-Palast am Zoo on January 10, 1927. After having been approved by the Film Board, the 4189-meter-long version was screened in that same theatre for four months with unsuccessful results. As a consequence Ufa decided to withdraw the film and to produce a much shorter version – 3241 meters long – to be released in movie theatres in the summer of 1927. Ufa based this version for German and international distribution on the release print for the American market made in 1926 which Paramount had reduced by one quarter, totalling a well-established length of 3100 meters. Stage writer Channing Pollock who was in charge of the reduction, made several drastic changes: for instance, he eliminated the rivalry between ruler Fredersen and inventor Rotwang for the same woman (Brigitte Helm) who they both loved and lost, therefore eliminating the motive for building a female robot. For decades, the original negative and the reduced version used for German and international distribution were believed to be the only surviving sources. The copy purchased by film distributor Adolfo Z. Wilson immediately after the Berlin premiere in January 1927 – and therefore before the cuts – was released in Argentina in May 1928. After being withdrawn from circulation this copy became part of Manuel Peña Rodriguez’ private collection which later was passed on to the Fondo Nacional de las Arte and eventually to the Museo del Cine Pablo C. Ducros Hicken. In 1970s, the heavily-worn nitrate copy was used to make a 16mm safety print and apparently that the process lacked a qualified supervision. As a matter of fact, it is believed that the highly flammable nitrate material – damaged and stained as the duplicate clearly shows – was destroyed short after the duplication. For decades no one knew about the treasure that was hidden in Buenos Aires.

The restoration has been carried out by the Wiesbaden-based Friedrich-WilhelmMurnau Foundation jointly with Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (Berlin), in cooperation with the Museo del Cine Pablo C. Ducros Hicken (Buenos Aires). Contributors of material and advice were: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv (Berlin), British Film Institute National Archive (London), Cinémathèque Francaise (Paris), Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (Berlin), Filmmuseum im Münchner Stadtmuseum, Fondazione Cineteca Italiana (Milano), George Eastman House (Rochester), Gosfilmofond
of Russia (Belye Stolby), The Museum of Modern Art (New York), Museo del Cine Pablo C. Ducros Hicken (Buenos Aires), National Film and Sound Archive (Canberra), New Zealand Film Archive (Wellington) – Ida and Noel Mabee Collection, Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR (Berlin), Universität der Künste (Berlin) and Enno
Patalas. The digital image restoration was carried out by Alpha-Omega digital in Munich. The original music by Gottfried Huppertz has been reconstructed and synchronized by Frank Strobel, the edition was commisssioned by ZDF / ARTE and Europäische Filmphilharmonie – Die Philharmonie GmbH. Film Restoration and re-screening have been funded by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Gemeinnützige Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhine-Main, by the Verwertungsgesellschaft für Nutzungsrechte
an Filmwerken mbH, as well as the DEFA Foundation. Transit Film GmbH (Munich) is in charge of internationally distributing this most recent restored version of Metropolis.