In the American cut of Metropolis the mentioning of Hel is completely removed from the movie. But it pretty much explains Dr. Rotwangs actions. Why was such an important story-element taken away?

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I did a little bit of online research on this, and it would appear that the American distributors considered the movie too long, complicated and controversial and employed the playwright Channing Pollock to make a new version.

The American release was considerably shorter than the original (at 115 minutes it was about 25% shorter than the original) and massively changed the plot - to the point where some scenes became almost incomprehensible. According to one reference I found Hel was dropped because her name was too close to Hell - unbelievable really.

Pollock's version was released in the USA and the UK. Other adaptations of around that length or some even shorter (91 minutes) were released in the USA and Germany. The 91 minute version was the most commonly available from world-war-2.

I found a description about the restoration of the movie which contains some detail about the different versions. A documentary of the restoration can be found on a DVD and Blu-Ray.

This research has made me want to see the restored version, as I saw a version around 1992 with live piano accompaniment - and I now have no idea how butchered the version I saw was.

  • Great link you provided. I knowed some of the story, but to read it in this way is very fascinating. The reason that Pollock thought Hel is too much like Hell is incredibly stupid. But sometimes people are stupid, so it could be well the reason.
    – Mnementh
    Dec 3, 2011 at 10:42
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    To the question if you should see the new reconstruction. I saw it, as the Murnau-Stiftung presented it with a screening on the Berlinale (with no chance a normal guy could ever get tickets to), that was transferred through german television. I had to sustain some speeches of important german politicians, but then could see it. I didn't remember much from an earlier reconstruction I saw some years ago, but the new argentinian parts are easy to recognize, as they are in bad shape (as I read in the link, the archive choosed the cheapest contractor to copy the movie to 16mm .... aargh).
    – Mnementh
    Dec 3, 2011 at 10:50
  • You always know: 'This was missing' because of the quality. Most important missing part for the plot is Hel. But also parts of the fake maria at the Yoshiwara depicted as the whore of Babylon (I think Lang or Harbou wanted to say, that the machine women has no morals). Some other parts setting the mood of the movie or gluing scenes. So if you liked Metropolis, you should see it in any case. If not, it may be a change, depending on which version you saw. The older reconstruction of the Murnau-Stiftung is somewhat complete, but you miss much if you saw Moroders version or Pollocks.
    – Mnementh
    Dec 3, 2011 at 10:57

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