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Friday, October 25, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

'Metropolis' is restored, reconstructed and magnificent

Seattle Times staff reporter

Movie review


****
"Metropolis," with Gustav Frhlich, Brigitte Helm and Alfred Abel. Directed by Fritz Lang, from a screenplay by Lang and Thea von Harbou. 124 minutes. Not rated. Varsity.

You may have seen Fritz Lang's astounding "Metropolis" before, but not like this.

There certainly have been plenty of different, truncated cuts of the silent, expressionist science-fiction epic in circulation since its 1927 release. Remember Giorgio Moroder's infamous 1984 version with the pop soundtrack?

But Bonnie Tyler and Billy Squier were out of their class, and their caterwauling is absent from the definitive version released for the film's 75th anniversary. It's been digitally restored and reconstructed, and at 124 minutes is the most complete, magnificent version since the one that first premiered in Berlin (at 153 minutes). That's about a third longer than Moroder's.

Towering city of the future. Beautiful female robot. Worker revolt in the city's hellish bowels. Moloch, the god of fire. The restored footage makes these iconic images and the story more comprehensible. For instance:

• The conflict between city ruler Joh Frederson and Rotwang the mad scientist. They both loved Hel, who married Joh and died giving birth to their son, Freder. Hence Rotwang's construction of the robot and his plan to bring Metropolis down.

• Joh's "Thin Man" shadowing the adult Freder in the red-light "Yoshiwara" district.

• Footage of Maria being chased by angry workers during the catastrophic climax.

Newly written intertitles describe scenes that remain missing. And this definitive version also features a new orchestral recording of the original Gottfried Huppertz score. See it on the big screen while you can, or risk the wrath of Moloch.

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259.

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