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Metropolis 1927 version. (1 Viewer)


Second Unit
Jun 30, 1997
just got done watching part of this movie. taped it last night since it was on tcm. what does evreyone think of this movie. looks way ahead of its time but why was the movie chopped/butchered from what it was intended to see. Don,

Jason Seaver

Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1997
Same reason they are nowadays - to try to appeal to a wider audience and to make the theater owners/studios money. Metropolis was a loooong movie - at 24fps, the restored version runs two hours, and there are arguments that it was supposed to be run at 20fps (or even 18). So, the movie could have been up to three hours long - a hard sell now, and an even harder sell in the twenties when movies averaged shorter run-times and were preceeded by newsreels, cartoons, etc.

Seth Paxton

Senior HTF Member
Nov 5, 1998
Metropolis and Sunrise represent to me the peak of achievement by the German Expressionists from UFA studios. Of course William Fox produced Sunrise, but it was clearly a joint effort (Murnau brought many of his UFA companions with him, and Rosher - DoP - had studied at UFA). By the late 20's these artists had reached a peak of technical and artistic understanding that allowed for a variety of fantastic shots and art direction which helped bring the Expressionistic themes to life.

One of the biggest reasons for cutting the film was actually not running time as much as a poor reception to the film. The US version cuts were a strong attempt to redesign the film to have themes more in keeping with Classical Hollywood values. This was very much a common problem for the high art of the Expressionsist films coming to America. Murnau's masterpiece The Last Laugh received similar poor response in the US.

There is STRONG debate over the running time issues, and one problem is that by 26-27 camera speeds had been normalized by technology. So the case for anything like 18-20 is tricky.

So while I wouldn't disagree that running time was a partial factor, the truth is that it was the story itself that seemed to be the hardest sell in the US where some of the biggest cuts took place, though it was no cakewalk for the film in Berlin either where is was a box office letdown as well. UFA cut its own shorter version shortly afterward, so there were 3 cuts available by Fall of 1927.

To quote noted historian Thomas Elsaessar from his outstanding BFI book on Metropolis
had no restraint or logic. It was symbolism run such riot that people who saw it couldn't tell what the picture was all about. I have given it my meaning.
A connection in Metropolis to another classic film - the Moloch machine appears to have been named and designed after the Moloch temple seen in the Itali Studio film Cabiria (1914), not to be confused with Fellini's Nights of Cabiria. In that film not only does the outside of the temple look quite similar, but during sacrifices children are fed into a mouth not unlike happens to the workers in Metropolis.

If you like Metropolis and have not seen Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Sunrise, The Last Laugh, M or even Faust, I would recommend all of them. You will see similar art direction, themes, etc.

I happen to think UFA from 15-30 was possibly one of the greatest periods/places in all of filmmaking. Even more amazing is that at the same time the Soviet's were having what could be argued to be as great an artistic movement of their own.

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