See Metropolis’ Scandalous Dance Scene Colorized, Enhanced, and Newly Soundtracked

It did­n’t take long after the inven­tion of cin­e­ma for its sheer pow­er of spec­ta­cle to become clear. Arguably, it was appar­ent even in the pio­neer­ing work of the Lumière broth­ers, though they attempt­ed only to cap­ture images famil­iar from every­day life at the time. But in a decade or two emerged auteurs like Fritz Lang, who, hav­ing grown up with cin­e­ma itself, pos­sessed high­ly devel­oped instincts for how to use it to cap­ti­vate large and var­i­ous audi­ences. Released in 1927, Lang’s Metrop­o­lis showed movie­go­ers an elab­o­rate vision, both fear­some and allur­ing, of the indus­tri­al dystopia that could lay ahead. But it also had danc­ing girls!

Or rather, it had a danc­ing girl who’s actu­al­ly a robot — a Maschi­nen­men­sch, accord­ing to the script — built by the film’s vil­lain in an attempt to besmirch the hero­ine who would lib­er­ate the tit­u­lar city’s down­trod­den work­ers. (Both the real woman and her mechan­i­cal imper­son­ator are skill­ful­ly played by Brigitte Helm.)

In the video above, you can see the scan­dalous and cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly inno­v­a­tive spec­ta­cle-with­in-a-spec­ta­cle that is Metrop­o­lis’ dance scene col­orized, upscaled to 4K res­o­lu­tion at 60 frames per sec­ond, and new­ly sound­tracked with a track called “Lemme See About It” by Max McFer­ren. This is rec­og­niz­ably Metrop­o­lis, but it’s also a Metrop­o­lis none of us has ever seen before.

The pro­duc­tion also com­bines visu­al mate­r­i­al from dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the film, quite a few of which have been edit­ed and re-edit­ed, lost and recov­ered over near­ly the past cen­tu­ry. (The run­ning times of the offi­cial­ly released cuts alone range from 83 to 153 min­utes.) Cer­tain dif­fer­ences in qual­i­ty between one shot and the next make this obvi­ous, though the con­sis­ten­cy of the over­all col­oriza­tion eas­es the sud­den tran­si­tions between them. A Metrop­o­lis fan could­n’t help but feel some curios­i­ty about how the whole pic­ture would play with all of these enhance­ments, not that it would resem­ble any­thing Lang could orig­i­nal­ly have envi­sioned. But then, no sin­gle cut exists that defin­i­tive­ly reflects his inten­tions — and besides, he’d sure­ly approve of how the film’s dance sequence has been made to cap­ti­vate us once again.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Metrop­o­lis: Watch Fritz Lang’s 1927 Mas­ter­piece

Watch Metrop­o­lis’ Cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly Inno­v­a­tive Dance Scene, Restored as Fritz Lang Intend­ed It to Be Seen (1927)

If Fritz Lang’s Icon­ic Film Metrop­o­lis Had a Kraftwerk Sound­track

One of the Great­est Dances Sequences Ever Cap­tured on Film Gets Restored in Col­or by AI: Watch the Clas­sic Scene from Stormy Weath­er

The Icon­ic Dance Scene from Hel­lza­pop­pin’ Pre­sent­ed in Liv­ing Col­or with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (1941)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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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  • Paul Salasar says:

    Com­par­ing the col­orized to the black and white ver­sions post­ed, I have to go with the black and white. To me the col­ored ver­sion looks car­tooney and dimin­ish­es the impact of the bw. The mod­ern score was very good, but again the score in the bw clip worked bet­ter with the scenes, espe­cial­ly at the fac­to­ry whis­tle where the shrill flute becomes the whis­tle

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