The so-called Complete Metropolis was shown last spring at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and it changes the viewer's experience substantially. The basic sequence of the film's iconic images is still there, but it's filled out with small details that deepen the film's two worlds, and with a couple of large subplots. The overall effect is to make the previous versions of Metropolis seem something like highlight reels. The sumptuous Michigan Theater, where the film will be shown on September 12 and 14, is a great place to see this over-the-top film, perhaps the most expensive production of the silent era.
The music is another local bonus. Metropolis will be accompanied live by senior staff organist Steven Ball on the Michigan's Barton organ, which he points out is probably the most often played of the few dozen surviving theater organs in the country. Ball will work from the film's original score, which now fits the action in a way it never has before, and he's one of a handful of musicians in the country capable of accompanying a silent film in the way it would originally have been done.
[Originally published in September, 2010.]