The word ‘metropolis’ stems from the Greek for ‘mother city’ and Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent is certainly the mum of sci-fi cinema – a genre progenitor whose characteristics can be seen in classics from Star Wars and Blade Runner to The Matrix.
What’s easily overlooked in all the bluster about German expressionism and precedent-setting production design is that it’s a damn fine movie. You don’t need to care about high art or film history in order to be gripped as a staggeringly-realised future city is torn apart by one man’s love, another’s greed and a loony scientist with a robot girl (the magnetic Brigitte Helm).
Brutally truncated by studio cuts after its première (and re-edited for an American edition), Metropolis has now been subject to a mammoth restoration job. The original score returns, as do some sub-plots and sense that were lost to over-eager scissors. This two-hour cut is as near as we’ll ever get to witnessing Lang’s intended vision. It’s absolutely blinding.