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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
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Metropolis
(1927)
 

Little needs to be said about the influence that Metropolis (1927) has had on filmmakers and cinephiles throughout the years. Despite its shortened form, the film is full of striking visuals and special optical effects. It remains among the top ten best-known and respected films of the silent era.

Fresh from the success of the epic Die Nibelungen (1924), director Fritz Lang undertook for his next film an even larger production based on an original screenplay by Thea von Harbou — a dystopian view of the future.

Production on Metropolis began on 22 March 1926, with principal cinematography taken 22 May through 30 October 1926. The massive scope of Lang’s film production cost its studio, Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA), millions at a time of German economic instability and spiraling inflation. With so much money invested in its production, UFA was committed to completing the film by its premier director and counted on the success Metropolis to rescue the studio from economic disaster.

Metropolis premiered 10 January 1927 at Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, Germany, in a massive version that ran more than two-and-one-half hours. The film was not critically well received, nor was it embraced by film audiences. When the film was released in America by Paramount Pictures Corporation, it was edited to a severely truncated ten reels and premiered in New York, New York, on 6 March 1927. By the time of the film’s German general release on 5 August 1927, Metropolis had been cut to 3241 metres or approximately eleven reels. The shortened German version and the American and European releases of the film did not recoup UFA’s investment in its production. Metropolis would gain the reputation as the film that crippled the once mighty UFA film studio.

Over the years, Metropolis was shortened further and the editing continuity shuffled as each successive version was duplicated from increasingly degenerated source materials. In its truncated form, Metropolis was more than a little confusing, which is not a surprise since an estimated one-quarter of the original Berlin release of the film was now missing. Some intertitles were badly translated into English and often intentionally took liberties with the storyline to disguise its choppy, shortened form. However, despite its Frankensteinian state, the film that remained was intriguing and filled with compelling images.

For many years after, Metropolis enthusiasts had to see the film at cinema clubs or at a collector’s home in contrasty 16mm reduction prints or, if lucky, view a 35mm print shown in a repertory film theater or museum.

Then came the VHS videocassette and the hard-to-find, poorly-transferred home video editions from low-quality 16mm reduction prints. They looked horrible, but here was Metropolis, viewable at any time — one of the tantilizing films from the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

In the early 1980s, techno-disco maven Giorgio Moroder acquired a duplicate negative made from a wonderful 35mm positive print of the American release version held by the Museum of Modern Art to create his modernized and shortened version that was released in theaters in 1985. The upside was that Metropolis was available to be seen in the clearest picture quality in many years and added some film stills and new intertitles to clarify the plot. The downside was that some shots were altered to add animation of clouds, eyes, etc., intertitles were optically printed as subtitles over the bottom of the picture image (like a foreign language film), portions of some scenes that have survived elsewhere were not to be found in Moroder’s version and that he utilized a modern rock music score that was barely serviceable (and is, ultimately, an embarrassment). Out-of-print home video copies of the Moroder version on videotape and laserdisc commanded top prices — when collectors found them.

Next came the DVD home video editions that started sprouting in 1998, still transferred from awful 16mm reduction prints, and still an effort to view. Many people were forced to watch Metropolis for the first time ever in these home video editions that did little to make positive modern impressions of the film.

Then, the 2002 restoration of Metropolis came the closest to a seemingly unattainable ideal — to create a version of the film that had all of the surviving footage in the clearest photographic quality possible. Building on the earlier 1987 restoration work of Enno Patalas and the Munich Filmmuseum, the Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv and the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung set about rebuilding the wrecked remains of Metropolis. The incomplete original German camera negative of Metropolis was recovered and became the basis of a new reconstruction effort. The restoration team gathered together from the world’s film archives and collectors all of the known surviving footage from Metropolis, made wet-gate duplicate prints when neccessary, digitally transferred and cleaned rough footage — sometimes frame by frame — and digitally imaged new preservation negatives from which new restoration prints may be struck. In addition to the original scenario and the Von Harbow novelization of the script, the restoration team utilized the original censors’ report on Metropolis and the recently-recovered original music score written by Gottfried Huppertz to aid their continuity reconstruction efforts. The score contained many references to the intertitles and on-screen action in the premiere version print. The reconstruction results are impressive, and on occasion are a revelation to viewers familiar with the film.

Next in the seemingly ongoing saga of Metropolis: In the summer of 2008, a worn 16mm reduction negative was announced to have been discovered in the collection of Argentinian film critic Manuel Peña Rodríguez by Paula Felix-Didier, curator of the Museo del Cine Pablo C. Ducros Hicken in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The negative contained an additional 25 minutes of heretofore unknown footage. Yet another restoration of the film was a foregone certainty and was undertaken by Anke Wilkening of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and Martin Koerber, film department curator of the Deutsche Kinemateque.

Using the 16mm negative as a continuity guide in addition to the other reference materials utilized by previous restoration teams, the additional footage was duplicated, cleaned-up and inserted into previously restored footage. Snippets of additional footage extended existing shots, additional shots were added to existing scenes, and entirely new scenes were inserted into the narrative

The 2010 restoration version represents the most complete version of the film since its 1927 premiere. We now have a clearer sense of Lang’s intended film and an opportunity to reassess the artistic achievement of Metropolis. And we love that Fritz Rasp’s deliciously mean role as the Thin Man has at last been restored to the film. — Carl Bennett

2010 Kino International Blu-ray Disc edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 147 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K713, UPC 7-38329-07132-5.
Pillarboxed 16:9 MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, one single-sided Blu-ray Disc, Region A, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, German, French and Spanish? language subtitles, chapter stops, standard BD keepcase, $39.95.
BD release date: 23 November 2010.
Country of origin: USA
This Blu-ray Disc edition of Metropolis features the 2010 restoration version licensed by Transit Films of Germany, comprised of all of the known surviving footage from this crippled masterpiece. With the addition of 25 minutes of footage found in a worn 16mm reduction negative by the curator of the Buenos Aires Museo del Cine in Brazil in 2008, this home video edition now contains the most complete version of the film since its Berlin premiere in January 1927.

The film is presented with the original Gottfried Huppertz music score, performed by the Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, Berlin, as conducted by Frank Strobel.

Among the supplementary material is “Voyage to Metropolis,” a 50-minute documentary on the production of the film and its modern restoration, and an interview with Museo del Cine curator Paula Felix-Didier.

Ultimately, this will be the finest edition of Metropolis available on home video for many years to come. We highly recommend this Kino International Blu-ray Disc edition for your collection.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region-Free Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region-Free Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2010 Kino International DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 147 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K690, UPC 7-38329-06902-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, two single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 1, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, German, French and Spanish? language subtitles, chapter stops, two-disc standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
DVD release date: 16 November 2010.
Country of origin: USA
This updated DVD edition of Metropolis features the 2010 restoration version licensed by Transit Films of Germany, comprised of all of the known surviving footage from this crippled masterpiece. With the addition of 25 minutes of footage found in a worn 16mm reduction negative by the curator of the Buenos Aires Museo del Cine in Brazil in 2008, this home video edition now contains the most complete version of the film since its Berlin premiere in January 1927.

The film is presented with the original Gottfried Huppertz music score, performed by the Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, Berlin, as conducted by Frank Strobel.

Among the supplementary material is “Voyage to Metropolis,” a 50-minute documentary on the production of the film and its modern restoration, and an interview with Museo del Cine curator Paula Felix-Didier.

For those who have not made the jump to Blu-ray Disc, this will be the finest edition of Metropolis available on home video for many years to come. We highly recommend this revised Kino International DVD edition for your collection.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2003 Kino on Video DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 116 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K275, UPC 7-38329-02752-0.
Windowboxed 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 6.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 224 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, German, French and Spanish language subtitles, 33 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
DVD release date: 18 February 2003.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 9 / audio: 8 / additional content: 7 / overall: 8.

This DVD edition of Metropolis features the restoration version that toured cinemas worldwide in 2002. Digital technology has been utilized to clean and restore all of the footage in this reconstruction, licensed by Transit Films of Germany, comprised of (what was known to exist in 2002) all of the surviving film from this crippled masterpiece.

In the restoration print, brief sections of missing footage are indicated by approximately a third-of-a-second of black leader stock, which pass by so quickly for the viewer that they are not distracting. Bridging intertitles describe the action of missing scenes. We were surprised that surviving stills from the missing sections were not used in conjunction with the bridging titles to give the viewer some indication of the missing visuals. Perhaps it was decided that the stills were too static, and thus are not used. Of value, also, is the restoration of the original intertitles (here translated into English) that tell Lang’s and Thea von Harbou’s original story, that makes greater sense of the action for the viewer.

This new Kino International edition features a 65-piece orchestral performance of Gottfried Huppertz’s original score for the film that is presented in both stereo and surround sound. The music seems a bit inappropriately lively in some scenes, but overall is pleasing to listen to and gives the viewer some sense of the emotional intent of Lang and Huppertz.

We noticed that some footage included in this DVD has never appeared in USA home video editions before. The quality of the picture image is very-good to excellent, depending on the condition of the source material. Very few shots have been utilized from rough prints. Much of the footage has been digitally copied from the incomplete original camera negative and features striking clarity and detail. Many of the defects of the surviving footage have been removed. The digital restoration is very well done — however, educated eyes will occasionally see evidence of digital work. (We did notice that one shot of the workers’ city being flooded at 1:35:35 has been included in the restoration print flopped — that is, in mirror reverse.) Also, collectors should note that the actual running time of the film is 116 minutes (disregarding new introductory notes and closing credits — even including them, the running time is still under two hours), despite the claim of 124 minutes on the DVD packaging.

In reevaluating the disc on high-definition equipment capable of upscaling a standard NTSC signal to full 1080p HD, the sections of the film restored from the original negative are gorgeous, and reinforces our original rating of the DVD.

The audio commentary by Enno Patalas, read by David Cooke, points out the reoccurring motifs of running and closing doors and machines and mothers, the film’s metaphorical and allegorical elements, but is disappointingly without information about the film’s reconstruction considering Patalas’ role in the restoration of the film. There is only a notation of an incomplete Yoshiwara scene from a print surviving in Australia. The information about the reconstruction efforts is to be found exclusively in the two documentaries in the supplemental section.

Patalas, in the commentary, introduces us to the musical themes from Gottfried Huppertz’s score, points out the significance of camera movements, the revenge motive of Rotwang (that was muddled in reedited and rewritten versions of Metropolis), and notes the boyishness of Freder’s character, who does so much running in the film. Patalas does comment briefly on a contemporary German critic’s praising of the now-missing Yoshiwara sequence, and of the excised references to Hel. Also noted are illuminating details from the von Harbou novel that either were ignored in the scenario or were cut from the film.

In the supplemental section of the disc, “The Metropolis Case” by Enno Patalas (with Stefan Bitterhoff) examines the artistic and social environment in Germany and its film industry in the 1920s, which germinated and brought forth Metropolis. Patalas interestingly states that Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) was the first expressionist German film and that Metropolis was the last. Briefly chronicled is Fritz Lang’s rise in the industry and his artistic Metropolis intentions. The majority of the documentary covers the production, reception, and remaking of the film, and features a large number of production drawings, production photos, paintings, and film footage. Here is where much of the information about the special effects employed in the film is to be found. Of note is the quickly-passing statement that the animation in Metropolis was shot at 25 frames per second. This might indicate that this was the target cranking speed for the production. If so, a sound-speed transfer of 24 FPS would be appropriate, and that the undercranking of Freder’s manic running was deliberate. A portion of the documentary introduces us to the music score themes written for the film. Finally covered is the reconstruction of the film, and then the aftermath of Metropolis for Fritz Lang. 43 minutes.

“The Restoration,” hosted by Martin Koerber, covers the details of the Metropolis restoration efforts in greater detail than the Patalas documentary. Koerber briefly details the challenges of rebuilding a film from a variety of print sources, and shows us examples of both the advantages and disadvantages of digitally-processed reconstruction efforts. Of great interest is the restoration of the heart machine sequence. Koerber shows us that the original negative for this section had decomposed to the point that it was useless to the reconstruction team. Rather than utilize footage of the sequence from surviving prints (which might be one to two generations from the original negative), the team discovered that all of the original photographic elements for the sequence had survived in excellent condition in their precomposited form. By recombining the film elements, the sequence has been reconstructed in (what can be assumed) greater photographic quality than could be achieved in 1927. 9 minutes.

The supplemental section also includes a photo galleries section which includes production stills, stills from missing scenes, archetectural production sketches, costume design sketches, and promotional posters from around the world (with design credits); biographies from the major production team and cast; and a “Facts & Dates” section of original production credits.

This was the finest edition of Metropolis available on home video until the discovery of 25 minutes of additional surviving footage that has been included in the Kino International Blu-ray Disc edition noted above.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
This Region 1 NTSC DVD edition is also available directly from KINO LORBER.
2005 Eureka Entertainment DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 118 minutes, classification PG.

Eureka Entertainment, EKA40094 (MoC 8), unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, two single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound, German language intertitles, optional English, French, Spanish, Italian and German language subtitles (main feature and supplements), chapter stops, two-disc standard DVD keepcase, £19.99.
DVD release date: 24 January 2005
Country of origin: England
This high-quality PAL edition of the 2001 restoration version is presented in the original German intertitles, with optional subtitles in five languages on the main feature and supplements, the original 1927 orchestral score by Gottfried Huppertz, newly arranged by Berndt Heller, full-length audio commentary by film historian Enno Patalas, plus The Metropolis Case (2002) a 44-minute documentary by Enno Patalas on the making of Metropolis, a 9-minute restoration documentary (2002) with Martin Koerber, a supplementary section of production stills, posters, costume designs, stills of missing scenes, and architectural sketches, and a 28-page booklet containing extensive restoration notes by Martin Koerber, writings by Otto Hunte, Günther Rittau, Aenne Willkomm, Brigitte Helm, Rudolf Arnheim, and a newly-revised and updated essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum.

This would easily be the recommended PAL edition of Metropolis. North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2011 Kino Classics Blu-ray Disc edition

Metropolis (1927), color-toned black & white, 82 minutes, not rated.

Kino Lorber, K833, UPC 7-38329-08332-8.
Pillarboxed 16:9 MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, one single-sided Blu-ray Disc, Region A, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles and subtitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard BD keepcase in cardboard slipcover, $34.95.
BD release date: 15 November 2011.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 6 / audio: 6 / additional content: 5 / overall: 6.
Full disclosure: We viewed this edition on a high-definition television from an HD stream through a Roku streaming player instead of from a Blu-ray disc. Apparently, it wouldn’t have made any difference — stream or disc.

We thought this would have been an opportunity to improve the visual elements of Moroder’s version with an update of the look of the film with the higher-quality material that has surfaced over the past 27 years. We thought we had left this kind of sub-par viewing experience of Metropolis behind us. But, here is is for the nostalgic among us . . . the 1984 Giorgio Moroder version (mistakenly called a restoration) with all of its visual flaws: speckling, dust, long vertical scratches, picture instability within the frame, emulsion scuffing, pronounced film grain, sections of soft image detail — all with inappropriate superimposition of special motion and color effects, and with added subtitles!

The high-definition video transfer from one of the surviving 35mm prints of the Moroder version takes us on a time machine ride back to a previous era when a theatrical motion picture release meant speed-duping a hundred domestic prints and projecting them from automated platter-reel projectors that were never quite in-focus. Hey, listen to that! Four-channel stereo sound! Cool.

This version had its place in the 1980s, introducing a young eighties audience to an often unseen film classic that had a word-of-mouth reputation that was something short of monumental. The version also had its place in the early days of the home video revolution since the Moroder version footage looked better than myriad 16mm reduction prints of the time that were the source of a few small company VHS editions and have continued to be the source of so many of the awful DVD editions noted below. But, we have always thought that there was too much of what is called today “a mash-up” in the Moroder version, with its intrusive special effects that disregarded the original’s own accomplishments in favor of some embellishments and its horrid eighties soundtrack.

Moroder’s musical accompaniment of the film is at its best when strictly an instrumental synthesizer music score and at its worst with the soulless vocal performances from a parade of eighties MTV musical artists (Pat Benatar, Billy Squier, Freddie Mercury, Adam Ant, Bonnie Tyler, Loverboy, and Jon Anderson of the mashed-up eighties version of Yes) that constantly fought for the audience’s foremost attention — and sometimes won over Fritz Lang’s impressive visuals.

With the astounding Metropolis restoration accomplishments of the past ten years, the 2011 home video release of this outdated and never quite respectable Moroder version makes as much sense as a Blu-ray Disc edition of an eighties theatrical rerelease print of The Wizard of Oz — maybe even less sense.

This home video edition includes the following supplementary material: 'The Fading Image'” Produced by Giorgio Moroder, the 1984 short documentary chronicling the production of Moroder’s version of Metropolis (premiering on home video format), the original theatrical trailer for the Moroder version, a photo gallery, and a liner notes introduction written in 2011 by Giorgio Moroder.

It is our (subjective) opinion that this edition is only for the inexplicably nostalgic, who likely experienced Metropolis for the first time in theaters in 1984 and have cherished their old laserdisc and VHS videotape editions all these years. They will love the new HD transfer of the Moroder version, but we still recommend Kino’s 2010 Blu-ray Disc edition of the reconstructed edition noted above.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2011 Kino Classics DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), color-toned black & white, 82 minutes, not rated.

Kino Lorber, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles and subtitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
DVD release date: 15 November 2011.
Country of origin: USA

For our review of this edition, see the Kino Classics Blu-ray edition noted above.

This home video edition includes the following supplementary material: 'The Fading Image'” Produced by Giorgio Moroder, the 1984 short documentary chronicling the production of Moroder’s version of Metropolis (premiering on home video format), the original theatrical trailer for the Moroder version, a photo gallery, and a liner notes introduction written in 2011 by Giorgio Moroder.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
1998 Classic Media Holdings DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 95 minutes, not rated.

Classic Media Holdings, 100XSI, no UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 4.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 384 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 30 chapter stops, jewel DVD case, $13.95.
DVD release date: 31 March 1998.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 3 / audio: 4 / additional content: 0 / overall: 3.

Comparing the Classic Media Holdings “special collector’s edition” DVD to the Moroder version of Metropolis quickly reveals to the observant viewer that the CMH version does have shots and extended scenes that are not found in the Moroder version (but it also does not have other shots and extended scenes that are present in the Moroder version). The additional footage is a definite plus, but the abysmal photographic quality of the 16mm reduction print utilized for the video transfer makes for very rough going (particularly throughout the first reels of the film, which are highly speckled). The print utilized is the 16mm edition from Thunderbird Films, and it is rather contrasty with excessive frame cropping, probably the fault of the original 16mm print manufacturers. The edition features a passable canned piano music score.

This CMH edition is now out-of-print, which is no big loss.
2003 Front Row Entertainment DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 118 minutes, not rated.

Front Row Entertainment, 3738, UPC 0-82554-37383-0.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 4 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 8 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $5.98.
DVD release date: 2003.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 3 / audio: 4 / additional content: 0 / overall: 3.

We find it insulting that this budget edition touts its disc as “Digitally Remastered For Superior Picture Quality.” That statement is tantamount to deceptive marketing, for this is no quality product. In fact, this disc takes its shameful and rightful place among the other horrid-looking low-budget editions of Metropolis that have been foisted onto the marketplace.

The video transfer from a 16mm reduction print identical to the poor to good, contrasty and tightly-cropped Thunderbird Films print used for several low-budget editions of Metropolis. Facial details are often blasted-out to nothing in medium and long shots, and the picture is devoid of any true image details due to the low-quality source print. All of the intertitles are presented as still frames, which keeps them from bouncing about in the frame like the rest of the film.

The producers at Front Row reveal their deceptive nature again in the packaging statement “Remastered to AC-3 Dolby Digital for surround sound.” The accompanying canned orchestral music score is, in fact, mono.

We take Front Row Entertainment to task for their out-and-out lying to consumers, which appears to be a deliberate and ongoing pattern of theirs. We are aware of a Front Row edition of a widescreen film listed on the DVD packaging as being a letterboxed edition that is, in fact, a pan-and-scan edition. Their pattern of misleading statements is either massive stupidity or criminal deceit. We believe it is the latter. We do not recommend this edition of Metropolis.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2005 St. Clair Vision DVD edition

Tales From the Future (1925-1989), black & white and color, 758 minutes total, not rated,
including Metropolis (1927), black & white, 117 minutes, not rated.

St. Clair Vision, PDS88269-3VD, UPC 7-41027-16319-3.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, three single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 4 chapter stops, three-disc DVD keepcase, $7.98.
DVD release date: June 2005.
Country of origin: Canada

Ratings (1-10): video: 3 / audio: 4 / additional content: 5 / overall: 3.

It should be no surprise that this low-budget edition of Metropolis is another in a series of horrible discs unleashed upon a largely unsuspecting consumer public. The chief attraction of the box set is acquiring nine films for less than eight dollars (among them a surprisingly good edition of The Lost World).

Full-frame transferred from the same old contrasty low-quality 16mm reduction print as many other budget editions, this disc is tough going. Highlight details are often obliterated in a smear of light gray, while shadows are completely closed up. The source print has the same amount of speckling, dust, exposure fluctuations and jitteriness as as other cheap discs. Why expect anything else?

The film is accompanied by a canned, coarsely-edited orchestral music score of classical music likely lifted from somewhere else.

Don’t buy this set simply to acquire Metropolis, go for the Kino edition instead.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD of this edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2002 Navarre Corporation DVD edition

Triple Feature Horror Classics, Volume 1 (1922-1927),
black & white and color, 306 minutes total, not rated,
including Metropolis (1927), black & white, 119 minutes, not rated.

Navarre Corporation, 1613, UPC 7-41027-16139-3.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 2.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language substitles, 12 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.98.
DVD release date: 12 March 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 2 / audio: 4 / additional content: 5 / overall: 2.

Metropolis is yet another silent era film that has been poorly represented in several budget DVD editions over recent years. This edition from Navarre does nothing to rectify that disservice.

This disc features a different video transfer of the same poor to good quality 16mm reduction print that was utilized for the 1998 CMH DVD edition. The natural-speed transfer of this quite contrasty and blurry print is very tightly cropped, with many of the chopped off intertitles being difficult to read. However, some of the intertitles and all of the main titles have been represented in still frames to ensure some readability. If you get nostalgic to revisit how you used to have to watch Metropolis on home video, you could watch this disc.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2002 Catcom Entertainment DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 115 minutes, not rated,
with The Wizard of Oz (1925), black & white, 87 minutes, not rated.

Catcom Entertainment, CAT256-6, UPC 7-41914-02566-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 3 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 2 / audio: 3 / additional content: 4 / overall: 2.

This is yet another budget edition that has cropped up for sale on eBay and from discount retailers. The disc has been transferred from the same lousy 16mm reduction print as the other lousy discs noted above. So, expect a grayed and fuzzy picture — an arduous viewing experience.

And, the DVD we previewed would not play in the latter part of the disc containing the second feature.

Thankfully, this disc is out-of-print.
2008 Triad Productions Corporation DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 123 minutes, not rated.

Triad Productions Corporation, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase?, $19.99.
DVD release date: 20 November 2008.
Country of origin: USA
Beware! Beware! This DVD-R edition of Metropolis is touted as “Enhanced,” and a “Video Enhancement Program” has been utilized to reduce video noise and improve video quality. The results are usually far from acceptable.

What often happens is that an inferior 16mm reduction print is sourced for the video transfer, which is then passed through a PC computer program that actually reduces the image resolution by averaging multiple video frames in an attempt to smooth the substandard quality, rendering a blurry, almost detailless picture. We have seen this kind of misguided work before, which ends up being a waste of everyone’s time. If quality 35mm print materials had been utilized to begin with, there wouldn’t be need for a PC “Video Enhancement Program.” If the results were good, this edition would not have been produced on DVD-R discs by an obscure home video company.

Our advice is to avoid this home video edition.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2008 St. Clair Vision DVD edition

Silent Classics (1920-1927), black & white, 294 minutes total, not rated,
including Metropolis (1927), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

St. Clair Vision, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 15 April 2008.
Country of origin: USA
This edition of Metropolis is likely to be identical in quality to St. Clair Vision’s 2005 edition noted above.

Honestly, we don’t wanna know!

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2007 Synergy Entertainment DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Synergy Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.99.
DVD release date: 29 May 2007.
Country of origin: USA
This DVD-R edition has likely been mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2005 Diamond Entertainment? DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, ? minutes, not rated,
with Things to Come (1936), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Unidentified company, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 18 October 2005.
Country of origin: USA
And the hits just keep on coming!

This DVD edition of Metropolis has likely been mastered from the same 16mm reduction print of similar low quality as other cheap editions noted here.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2004 Delta Entertainment DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Delta Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered? DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $6.99.
DVD release date: 24 February 2004.
Country of origin: USA
Another in Delta’s 2004 series of budget silent film editions is this DVD of Metropolis. Expect that the film has been mastered from a 16mm reduction print. We’d be very surprised if this disc is any better than the other budget editions.

Not recommended until we have viewed the disc.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2002 Alpha Video DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 115 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Video, ALP3060D, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $6.98 (raised to $7.98).
DVD release date: 19 February 2002.
Country of origin: USA
Mysteriously, unlike other Alpha Video silent film product, this edition is on limited distribution. However, as with the majority of Alpha’s product, this edition was likely mastered from a subpar-quality 16mm reduction print.

With better editions available, don’t bother chasing this one.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
1999 Platinum Disc Corporation DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 115? minutes, not rated.

Platinum Disc Corporation, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 29 June 1999 (rereleased 5 June 2001).
Country of origin: Canada
Based on other discs that we have seen from Platinum, this is likely to be one of the most horrid yet produced.

Don’t expect anything even approaching quality out of this DVD.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
1998 Madacy Entertainment DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 115 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment, DVD9 9007, UPC 0-56775-00439-2.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.99.
DVD release date: 19 May 1998.
Country of origin: Canada
This edition from Madacy Entertainment was originally the most common available on DVD, being a main staple on eBay and at mall video stores for years. We have not viewed this edition. (We couldn’t bringing ourselves to buy this one.) We are, however, aware of its low reputation, even for a budget-line release. General consensus had it that the Madacy edition was the worst of the terrible-looking early editions of the film on DVD. We can say that the only reason to own one of these early DVDs is that they contained extended scenes and additional footage that was not in the 1985 ‘Moroder version’ of Metropolis (available on VHS videotape and laserdisc — both long out-of-print). The Madacy has very likely been transferred from a substandard 16mm reduction print and thus will be very rough viewing. Many purchasers of this DVD have been very disappointed with its low picture quality and inappropriate music score.

This Madacy edition is now out-of-print, thank heavens. After all, can you trust a company stupid enough to market this home video edition of a German film as one of the “Hollywood Classics”?

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
1999 Madacy Entertainment DVD edition

Metropolis (1927), black & white, 115 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment, DVD9 9156, UPC 0-56775-04879-2.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.99.
DVD release date: 1999.
Country of origin: Canada
Madacy Entertainment continues to rerelease several of its DVD titles, with different packaging artwork, in an attempt to sucker uninformed consumers. This edition is identified by brownish packaging with a muddy black & white photo, an overline that reads “Excelsior Collectors Edition” and a bottom logo that reads “Hollywood Classics” (we kid you not). We can only assume that the transfer on this disc is exactly the same as the 1998 edition mentioned above. We recommend that both of these discs be avoided. While both Madacy releases are now out-of-print, you can expect that the low-budget company will again repackage this title.
Other silent era FRITZ LANG films available on home video.

Other GERMAN FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Other SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY FILMS of the silent era available on home video.
 
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