In an era where special effects are common place, it’s startling to go back and see how filmmakers from a different era built fantastical worlds without so much as a pixel. One of the most staggering examples of using practical effects to bring a new and strange world to life remains Fritz Lang’s landmark and iconic “Metropolis.” In 1984, the synth pioneer Giorgio Moroder used his cultural cachet to produce a controversial new version of Lang’s film. Thanks to the powers of the internet and Open Culture, you can now see this cultural oddity for yourself.
Because the original intended frame rate for Lang’s film was unknown, one of the most controversial aspects of the Moroder version of “Metropolis” is that its 24 frames-per-second, and that’s even before you factor in the splashes of color replacing the original black-and-white photography, sound effects and many cut scenes. Cinephiles in the mid-80s were not pleased with what Moroder had done, and especially recoiled at the soundtrack of seven pop songs – by Pat Benatar, Loverboy and Freddie Mercury, among others – that Moroder had handpicked.
30 years removed from that version’s premiere at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, Moroder’s iteration doesn’t seem as much as an affront to the legacy of “Metropolis” so much as a relic of the 80s. It helps that it’s not the only (or best) version of the film available. For those wishing to see “Metropolis” as close to its original glory you’ll probably want to catch Kino’s release from a couple of years ago. For everyone else that just wants to see a weird interpretation of the Lang film and dance along to that synth-heavy soundtrack, you can watch the Moroder version below.