The Berlinale: Metropolis and Shutter Island

It’s that time of year in Berlin when glitter balls shimmer, red carpets are rolled out and the stars come to town. Kate Winslet is staying in Hotel Adlon, Tilda Swinton is in the Hotel Ritz Carlton, Keanu Reeves, Renée Zellweger and Michelle Pfeiffe are in The Regent Hotel (not together of course), Ben Stiller is in the Hotel de Rome, but as usual most of the actors, directors and Berlinale lot are in the Hotel Grand Hyatt conveniently located in Potsdamer Platz.

Metropolis PosterThe highlight of the festival was Friday night, when Fritz Lang’s Metropolis premiered in full for the first time since 1927 in Friedrichstadt Palace and at the Brandenburger Tor. As we were not special enough to be able to get into Friedrichstadt Palace nor one of the 2000 people brave enough to watch it outdoors in the snow, we watched it on Arte.

Metropolis, the first Sci-Fi film ever made, and influence on everything from Tim Burton’s Batman to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is set in a dystopian world where the poor work tirelessly in an underground maze of machines while the rich live luxuriously in high towers above ground.

Freder, the son of Johann Fredersen, the wealthiest man in the city, leads a blissful life until the evangelical Maria enters his garden one day with some worker children and tells him that they are his brothers. Freder follows Maria to the underworld, where he is so moved by what he sees that he swaps places with one of the workers there. Meanwhile, his father visits mad-scientist Rotwang to enlist his help in thwarting a workers revolution led by Maria. Rotwang creates a robot in her exact image, which causes havoc in the city but ultimatley leads to the dawn of a new era in Metropolis.

It’s incredicle to think that this film was made in 1927; its visual effects, set design and expressionist camera work are so sophisticated and its themes still pertinent – perhaps testament to the fact that it was not only the most costly UFA film ever made, but also the most expensive silent film ever. However, it flopped when it was released more than 80 years ago, which led to the film being cut by 25 minutes. It was believed that the original verison of the film was lost forever until 2008 when a full version was discovered in Argentina. It took two years to restore the 16 mm film, and the process relied heavily on the original film score by Gottfried Huppertz, which was annoted in detail.

Leonardo Di Caprio at Shutter Island premiereYesterday, what did get us out into the cold was the opportunity to see Martin Scorsese, Ben Kingsley, Leonardo DiCaprio et al trot down the red carpet to the premiere of Shutter Island. The scene was dominated by girls screaming “Leo!”, but apart from him, Ben and Martin, we caught a glimpse of Mark Ruffalo, Wim Wenders, Mario Adorf, Hannes Jaenicke and Detlev Buck. 

I cannot wait to see this film set in 1954, which follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels on his investigation to track a missing murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane on the remote Shutter Island. It releases in Germany on the 25th Feb 2010 – here’s the trailer and a some interviews:

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