Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Metropolis" sparkles

It's often been said that silent films are a lost art twice over. Not only are movies without sound not being made anymore, but many of the classics of the period also no longer physically exist. That, however, is not the end of the story.

For what's less well known is that pictures long thought to be lost forever, key works unseen for decades, have a remarkable tendency to regularly turn up in ways as exciting and dramatic as the films themselves. And so it is with Fritz Lang's masterwork, "Metropolis."

Sunday night at Grauman's Chinese Theatre as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival (with a full run scheduled at Laemmle's Royal starting May 14), a 2-hour, 27-minute version of Lang's film got its North American debut after a rapturous world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

Considered the most expensive German film of its day, "Metropolis" is celebrated as much for its spectacle as its story. Set in a mechanized city of the future where captains of industry live in towers and the slaves who do all the work dwell underground, "Metropolis" is simultaneously an examination of the future, a parable about capital and labor and the complicated story of an enigmatic young woman named Maria, played by Brigitte Helm.

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