Metropolis Remixed: Fritz Lang’s German Expressionist Sci-Fi Classic Gets Fully Colorized and Dubbed

Those of us who grew up with late-night cable television will have a few memories of happening upon old movies that didn't look quite right. Usually drawn from the 1940s or 50s, and sometimes from the depths of genres like science-fiction and horror, these pictures had undergone the process of colorization in hopes of increasing their appeal to a generation unused to black-and-white imagery. Alas, even the most high-profile colorization projects back then tended to look washed-out, with lifelessly pale faces lost among washes of green and brown. On the technical level colorization has improved in the decades since, though on the artistic level its usage remains, to say the least, a suspect endeavor.

But what if the film chosen for colorization was, rather than some piece of drive-in schlock, one of the acknowledged masterpieces of early 20th-century cinema? MetropolisRemix comes as one especially intriguing (if also startling) answer to that question, bringing as it does Fritz Lang's hugely influential 1927 work of German Expressionist sci-fi from not just the world of black-and-white film into color but from that of silent film into sound.

To add color its makers used DeOldify, "a deep learning-based project for colorizing and restoring old images (and video!)" previously featured here on Open Culture when we posted this colorized footage of Paris, New York, and Havana from the late 19th and early 20th century. You can get a taste of the MetropolisRemix viewing experience from this trailer:

In its entirety this version of Metropolis runs just over two hours, quite a bit shorter than the film's most recent restoration, 2010's The Complete Metropolis. The difference owes in large part to the lack of dialogue-conveying intertitles, which have been rendered unnecessary by a full-cast English-language dub that includes music and sound effects. Not everyone, of course, will approve of this "fan modernization," as its creators describe it. Phil Hall at Cinema Crazed prefers to call it "the most recklessly bad idea for a film since All This and World War II, the infamous 1976 nonsense that united Second World War newsreel footage with mostly unsatisfactory cover versions of Beatles music." But the sheer brazenness of MetropolisRemix nevertheless impresses — and somehow, Lang and his collaborators' vision of an industrial art-deco dystopia survives.

via Messy Nessy

Related Content:

Metropolis: Watch a Restored Version of Fritz Lang's Masterpiece (1927)

Read the Original 32-Page Program for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang Invents the Video Phone in Metropolis (1927)

H.G. Wells Pans Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in a 1927 Movie Review: It’s “the Silliest Film”

10 Great German Expressionist Films: From Nosferatu to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.


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Comments (8)
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  • Tristan says:

    The is an offense the the eye and the heart.

  • Addison Hart says:

    Man, you guys sure are scraping the bottom with this post.

  • Frank Johnsen says:

    Dubbing to English? Why? If you don’t understand German or the time this film was made, why bother to even have a look at it.

    I thought people in UK and elsewhere didn’t need dubbing. As for Americans,I suppose they need dubbing from English. Right?

  • WDS says:

    Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should … And in this case … it shouldn’t have happened.

  • Lucien den Arend says:

    This was a silent movie.

  • Sjbock says:

    Love it.

  • John D. says:

    The colorisation is interesting but it still does not look natural.

    The voice acting, however, is atrocious.

  • Eduardo França says:

    People just love hating on stuff, don’t they?
    If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I’ve seen the original Metropolis, and it’s quite an experience to watch it now, it can even be a shock for modern day viewers getting in touch with this work that is almost a 100 years old.

    Should you watch the original one? YES, by all means. But for most people, getting in touch with this modernized/remixed version might be a gateway to watching the original all (something most people would not do on their own).

    Everyone should watch both versions.

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