How to Rebuild a Battered Movie Giant

My Blu-ray copy of the “complete” Metropolis arrived yesterday.

I couldn’t rip the shrink-wrap off fast enough.

I love, love, love this movie.

In case you don’t know, Metropolis is German director Fritz Lang’s 1927 dystopian sci-fi epic. It was the most expensive silent movie ever made, and its special effects and set designs have inspired film-makers and artists for 83 years.

Blade Runner owes much to Metropolis. So does Star Wars’ C3PO. A London musical was based on the movie. And recently, singer-songwriter-diva Janelle Monáe created a Metropolis suite.

But until this year, Metropolis was a damaged giant. When it premiered in Berlin in ’27, it was 153 minutes long. By the time I first saw it in the ’70s, there were just 90 minutes left.

Over the years, it had been sliced and diced by studios and distributors, its rhythm and pace ruined and its plot obscured. The excised footage was “lost.”

For the past three decades, efforts were made to restore the movie, and it was released and re-released in various versions, incorporating whatever missing footage could be found at the time. By 2001, Metropolis ran 124 minutes long.

Everybody thought Lang’s tour de force had been rebuilt as completely as it would ever be.

But two years ago, a 16 mm reduction negative of the original premiere cut of the film, including almost all the lost scenes, was discovered in a film museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

And now Metropolis has been, well, declared “complete.” Its running time stands at 145 minutes, just eight shy of its original magnificence. And lucky me, I’ve got a Blu-ray copy.

Fact is, though, that there’s still restoration work to be done on Metropolis. The “newest” footage from Argentina is watchable but scratchy and in need of further digital cleaning and repair. And there are those missing eight minutes still to be found.

Yeah, the restored Metropolis is still a work-in-progress.

Just like most of us.

We can only be great – and stay great – with ongoing effort. Same with our businesses.

That’s not something most of us wanna hear.

But so it goes.

Read the books.

Listen to the audios.

Attend the workshops.

Don’t sit still, moldering on your sofa (or, like Metropolis, decaying in a Buenos Aires film archive).

Do whatever you gotta do to be your best.

Make it an adventure!

To help get started, you might want to check things out right here.

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