It didn’t take long after the invention of cinema, the sheer power of spectacle became apparent. Arguably, it was seen even in the pioneering work of the Lumière brothers, even though they were simply trying to capture familiar images from everyday life at the time. But within a decade or two emerged auteurs like Fritz Lang, who grew up with cinema itself, having a highly developed instinct about how to use it to captivate a large and diverse audience. Released in 1927, Lang’s Metropolis shows moviegoers a complex, frightening and captivating vision of the industrial dystopia that may lie ahead. But it also has dancing girls!
Or rather, there was a dancing girl who was actually a robot—a maschinenmensch, according to the script — built by the film’s villains in an attempt to desecrate the heroine who would free the titular city’s downtrodden workers. (Both the real woman and her mechanical copycat are skillfully played by Brigitte Helm.)
In the video above, you can see the scandalous and cinematically groundbreaking spectacle-in-show that Metropolis‘ the dance scene is coloured, upgraded to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, and newly soundtracked with the song “Lemme See About It” by Max McFerren. It can be recognized Metropolisbut that too Metropolis neither of us had seen it before.
The production also incorporates visual material from various versions of the film, some of which have been edited and re-edited, lost and restored over the last nearly a century. (The run time from the officially released crop alone ranges from 83 to 153 minutes.) A certain difference in quality between one shot and the next makes this clear, although the consistency of the overall coloring makes it easy for sudden transitions between them. A Metropolis Fans can’t help but wonder how the whole picture will play out with all of these enhancements, not that it will resemble anything Lang originally envisioned. But then, none of the pieces definitively reflect his intentions—and besides, he’s bound to agree with how the film’s dance sequences are crafted to captivate us once again.
Metropolis: Watch Fritz Lang’s 1927
Watch Metropolis‘ Cinematically Innovative Dance Scene, Restored as Fritz Lang Wants to See (1927)
If Fritz Lang’s Iconic Film Metropolis Has a Kraftwerk Soundtrack
One of the Greatest Dance Sequences Ever Captured in Movie Colored by AI: Watch Classic Scenes from Storm
Iconic Dance Scene from Hellzapoppin‘ Presented in Vivid Color with Artificial Intelligence (1941)
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcaststs about the city, language and culture. The project includes a Substack newsletter Books about the City, book The Stateless City: Stroll through 21st Century Los Angeles and video series City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.