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“Metropolis” returns us to days of futures past.

“Metropolis” returns us to days of futures past. (photo)

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In movie theaters all over the country this weekend, audiences will flock to “Iron Man 2” for a view of the future — the alluring yet unsettling intersection of man and machine. At Film Forum this weekend, New Yorkers will have the chance to see the same thing in its original form, in the “complete” version of Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi masterpiece, “Metropolis.”

Though that description is a bit of a misnomer — this version is still missing some footage, including at least one important sequence – the newly restored “Metropolis” is still far closer to Lang’s original 150-minute cut than anything anyone has seen since 1927. Shortly after its premiere, Paramount, the film’s U.S. distributor, cut the film by almost an hour out of concern that American audiences wouldn’t sit still for the full runtime. (By the by, “Iron Man 2” runs 124 minutes.)

In the intervening years, “Metropolis” has undergone numerous transformations, ironic for a film that is very much about the nature of transformation, including some cuts of less than 90 minutes. The most recent “definitive” restoration from 2002 (available on a “Restored Authorized Edition” from Kino, who is also distributing this “complete” version) ran 124 minutes and required ample use of expository intertitles to replace lost scenes.

As detailed in the New York Times by Larry Rohter, the breakthrough came when Argentinean film archivist Fernando Peña found a nearly complete 16mm print of “Metropolis” buried in the archives of Argentina’s Museo del Cine. That eventually led to this new version, which marries previously lost sequences from the Argentinean print to the 2002 restoration.

05062010_MetropolisRestoration2.jpgYou don’t need to be a Lang scholar to identify the additions. Because of the smaller 16mm negative, the new footage is letterboxed on the top and left sides of the frame (plus there’s no mistaking the grain and dirt of the Argentinean scenes for the stunning clarity of the 2002 restoration). The improvements in narrative coherence far outweigh any distraction caused by the sudden drops in visual quality.

Plus, even without the enhancements, the movie is still one of the coolest pieces of eye candy the movies have ever produced, and easily one of the top five best-designed productions in history. (The score, by Gottfried Huppertz, remains a classic as well.) Any excuse to see this film projected on a big screen is a good one. A viewing of “Metropolis” is like a ticket to the past and a gateway to the future all at once. The ideas it contained — the thematic ones about the war between religion and technology by writer Thea von Harbou, and the astonishing visual ones by Lang — continue to inspire films to this day. Eat your heart out, Tony Stark.

Here’s one particularly exemplary sequence, the introduction of worker-devouring “Moloch” machine. This is not Huppertz’s score.

[Photos: “Metropolis,” Kino, 1927]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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