Since the first installment of Midweek Mad Scientist Movie Madness two weeks ago, I’ve watched several more films from Mad Scientist Theatre, a collection of mostly bad, mostly public domain films. As with any such collection, the appeal is in the handful of renowned classics, and some of the hidden gems.
The first three flicks on the very first disc are all silent movie classics. I’ve already reviewed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which both debuted in 1920. I appreciated and enjoyed both films for different reasons, and both were very well done, although quite different, films.
The third film is 1927’s Metropolis, perhaps the greatest silent film of all time. I took a modern German history course in college, and we were supposed to attend a screening of Metropolis for class. For some reason, I did not attend, which was very out of character for me (I only missed class twice in college: a session of Human Geography because my saxophone sextet had its recital that morning, and a rehearsal of the University Band so I could play The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion the night it was released). I guess we were never tested on it, but when I found out there was a robot woman, I was kicking myself for missing the flick.
Now, some twenty years later, I’ve finally watched this classic of Weimar Germany’s wild cinematic scene. I wish I’d gone to see it in college!
As with Jekyll and Caligari, you can watch Metropolis for free on YouTube (although, apparently, the film won’t be back in the public domain in the United States until the end of this year):
As you can see, it is a long film—depending on which cut you see. Apparently, there are dozens of different cuts and restorations, and no one knows for certain which is the “definitive” version. One of my readers asked me which cut I saw, and I have no earthly idea (sorry, cinephiles). It’s whatever version Mill Creek Entertainment decided to put on this collection. I do know the film felt long in parts—although I was glued to the screen for most of it—but it didn’t feel like it was two-and-a-half hours long.
What I can say is that Metropolis is worth seeing, not only because it is an important film in the history of cinema (and the height of German Expressionism), but because it is a good movie with an important message: the head and the hands must work together through the heart.
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