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Metropolis Rebuilt

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In 1927, director Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the most expensive silent film ever produced, premiered in Berlin — and flopped. Shortly thereafter, the 153-minute-long film was cut and re-edited to appease theater owners and foreign markets, leaving a visually stunning but incomprehensible mess. In the decades that followed, Metropolis came to be recognized as ground zero for the modern science-fiction special effects film, influencing everything from the oppressive architecture of Blade Runner to the costume design of Star Wars' C-3PO. But even after an extensive restoration effort in 2002, the then-"definitive" version was missing nearly one-fourth of the film. Then on July 1, 2008, it came to light that audiences in Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been watching a 16mm copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of the original cut of the film for decades — and nobody knew it. The news made headlines around the world, and after massive restoration work on the tattered archival print, the missing scenes were combined with the pristine 2002 restoration. The now Complete Metropolis makes its St. Louis premiere tonight, with live musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra, at 7:30 p.m. in Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries). Tickets are $5 to $6.
Fri., Oct. 1, 2010

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