Metropolis reborn at Berlin Film Festival

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Fritz Lang's sci-fi classic "Metropolis," restored and re-cut to its original version after 83 years, has been screened as a special gift on the 60th birthday of the Berlin Film Festival.

In a special Friday night gala screening in Berlin, "Metropolis" delighted audiences with an extra 30 minutes of previously lost footage accompanied live by The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Although crowds turned out in droves to see Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan walk the red carpet at the world premiere of Roman Polanski's new thriller "The Ghostwriter," many more traveled far to see the German cult classic "Metropolis" in its full, restored glory.

The sold-out event at the Friedrichstadt Palace was beamed simultaneously to a crowd of around 2,000 die-hard film buffs at Brandenburg Gate, who braved the snowy winter night to see the new "uncut" version.

A poster of Fritz Lang's sci-fi classic "Metropolis." [File Photo]

Dieter Kosslick, festival director of the Berlin Film Festival, hosted the gala event to an audience of 1800, including dignitaries, German parliament members, family members of the actors and cinema fans.

"Since 1951, Berlin Film Festival has screened 'Metropolis' seven times," Kosslick told Xinhua. "But tonight we will have the final version after 83 years. It's the world premiere of one of the most famous German films.

"It's a completely different 'Metropolis' from all the other versions. So this is a really big birthday gift!" he said.

The film's new restoration and reconstruction came after a lost 30 minutes of the original film were found in Buenos Aires in 2008. The film spent the last few years being restored at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation.

"The feeling of seeing this film restored and reborn is a great sensation," Carlos Augusto Dauzacker Brandao, a film critic and film restorer who came from Brazil to attend the opening night event told Xinhua. "There is nothing like holding film in your hands."

Widely known as one of the most influential pieces of German filmmaking, "Metropolis" is the dystopian tale of passionate class struggles between the enslaved workers and the elite society set to the backdrop of a highly stylized urban city of the future.

"'Metropolis' is not an easy film to explain," film critic and historian David Thomson said. "But the images never get out of our head." Thomson is the official curator of the 60th anniversary Retrospective section.

In 1927, Fritz Lang set new standards in filmmaking with his use of grandiose, expressionistic art direction and huge technical advancements.

Shortly after its release, the film was deemed a box office failure and was cut down in length. At the time it was the most expensive film ever made.

"Metropolis" is only one of the nearly 400 films that are being screened at the 60th anniversary year of the festival.


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