Earlier this week the Museum of Cinema in Buenos Aires held a press screening of long-lost scenes from Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi epic Metropolis that were located in the museum’s archives in April. Twenty to twenty-five minutes of footage, cut from the film by the German studio Ufa after the film’s unsuccessful release in 1927, have been recovered from a print, now heavily scratched, that was brought to Argentina by a private collector in 1928.
As Lang fans know, Metropolis has been available in a dizzying array of cuts over the past 80 years. Patrick McGilligan writes in his biography Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast, “The film was dictatorially and carelessly slashed everywhere after its Berlin premiere. Foreign negatives were often different from domestic negatives—to save money, different ‘takes’ rejected for domestic release were often inserted into foreign negatives, so that subtly and dramatically different prints made their way around the world. Local and government censorship in other countries added to the confusing variety of versions.”
Helmut Possman, head of the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Wiesbaden, Germany, has said that the new material will bring the film within five minutes of its original length.