Review: The Complete Metropolis DVD and Blu-ray

The Complete Metropolis DVD boxSTUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Fritz Lang | CAST: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Frohlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge
RELEASE DATE: DVD 11/16/10 Blu-ray 11/23/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.95
BONUSES: documentary on the making and restoration of the film, 2010 re-issue trailer, interview, more
SPECS: NR | 148 min. | Sci-fi adventure | 1.33:1 fullscreen | 5.1 stereo/ DTS-HD Master Audio | English intertitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Classic filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent masterpiece Metropolis has influenced everything from Madonna videos to modern architecture, so when a restored or altered version of it appears — and many have over the years — it’s justifiably big news. Radically cut after its German premiere, the now Complete Metropolis returns in its latest DVD and Blu-ray from Kino, and it appears to be as close to the full, original movie as cinephiles are likely to ever see.

Clocking in at slightly less than 2½ hours, Kino’s restored (and stunning!) version of Lang’s sensationally constructed and dazzlingly designed opus of a futuristic city so dystopian it would make George Orwell cringe includes a whopping 25 minutes of additional footage that was discovered in a Buenos Aires’ Muse del Cine last year.  25 minutes! Yes, that changes things — as in furthering character development and presenting subplots that weren’t even hinted at in earlier versions of the classic film.

For those of you new to the movie, Metropolis is set in the titular city, and follows the founder’s son Joh Frederson (German actor Alfred Abel). The city is flourishing, but one day, Joh discovers that there’s a different group of people who live under the city, workers who labor like robots.

Leading the two-disc package’s fine bonus features is Voyage to Metropolis, a new 50-minute documentary by Russian filmmaker Artem Demenok, who examines the film’s production and mythology, along with tracking its journey from the chopping block up through its many reconstructions and restorations.

The Blu-ray edition sports a lenticular cover that creates a visual effect of energy rings flickering and encircling the robot Maria as she sits in a laboratory chair and slowly comes to life, one of the film’s most indelible and iconic images. We’re not big fans of showboat packaging — Kino hasn’t done anything like this before — but in this case, it’s really, really cool. If the robotic shoe fits…



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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.