The 1927 Premiere version ran 153 mins.
The Complete Metropolis runs 148 mins.
Giorgio Moroder's Metropolis runs 82 mins.
Various other versions range in running time from 80 mins. to 124 mins.
Fritz Lang's Metropolis is the grandfather of all science fiction films. This epic silent film has been only seen in various truncated forms until 2010, when Kino International distributed The Complete METROPOLIS, which expanded on their 2002 restoration, implementing new footage found from a longer Argentinian cut of the film. Although some scenes are still missing, story cards have been inserted (as was also the case with their 2002 DVD) to fill you in on the story elements that are still lost in oblivion.
Metropolis takes place in a bleak future world where the human race is divided, primarily, into two classes: the rich who live their lives in futile pursuits, and the poor who slave away all day in the factories below the thriving city. A young man named Freder, the son of the city's most powerful man, follows a beautiful young woman down into the factories, where he learns the harsh reality of the world beneath his feet. Meanwhile, his father had a tortured friendship with a scientist who has created a robotic woman in the likeness of the woman they were both in love with. All the robot needs is a soul, and he finds it in the young woman Freder has fallen in love with. When her soul is merged with the robot, it creates a sinful Maria, set loose on an unsuspecting city. The film is breathtaking in its special effects and majesty, and it just gets better and better each time you watch it.
While I highly recommend watching the film first in its most complete version available on home video, I also highly recommend what has been referred to as the "party version" of Metropolis. In 1984, award-winning composer Giorgio Moroder produced, re-edited, and re-scored the film in a 82 minute version which features songs by Pat Benatar, Billy Squier, Jon Anderson, Adam Ant, Bonnie Tyler, Freddie Mercury, and Loverboy. This version, although shorter than most versions of the film, was the first to incorporate story elements that had not been seen since the film's original premiere. This was done by the use of still images, subtitles, and intertitles. This version was an integral part of a resurgence of interest in the film, and brought silent cinema to the attention of a new group of people.
If you are interested in watching this film for the first time, I highly recommend staying away from any of the cheap releases of it. The "public domain" versions are sloppy, truncated messes with many story elements missing or changed via intertitles in such a way that it does not make much sense. Look for any DVD/blu-ray release with the Kino logo on it, and you can't go wrong.
Original theatrical aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Thea Von Harbou