The Patriarch | 01/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you have doubts, this DVD collection contains the same DVDs as the special restored editions that are sold individually. Metropolis and Die Nibelungen are the two stand-out titles here. Metropolis had the most work spent on it, so much so that it often looks as if it were filmed yesterday in B+W. Honestly, it's amazing how good it looks. The score was completely rerecorded and it sounds amazing. Instead of just random music played in the background, it conveys the emotions occurring in the film. It and Die Nibelungen contain various extras that are actually interesting. The other films have also been restored well. Long story short, you have a better idea of whether you will like these films or not, but if you have any questions as to their quality, extras, etc. have no fear these are the special edition discs and they look great."
A great collection of early Lang films restored with care
calvinnme | 06/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fritz Lang always claimed he was a very visual person, and this collection of four movies from the silent era proves it. I'll go through each film individually:
Metropolis - This film is considered by many to be the first feature science fiction film. Ironically, this film, now considered a masterpiece, contributed to the bankruptcy of the studio that backed it. The film has great visual effects and huge sets that still impress today. The film ran so long that it was progressively cut back, and with each succeeding cut it became less coherent. The version on this DVD is still missing about 25% of the original footage, which is probably lost forever. However, using the novel and other sources, the missing scenes have been described on intertitle cards. These added descriptions make the plot clearer by filling in the holes. The story of Metropolis has society divided into two groups, those that toil beneath the city and those that live off of the fruits of their toil above. The extra features include:
1. A 43 minute documentary entitled "Metropolis Case" which has film historian Enno Patalas discussing the film's place in history. The featurette is filled with production shots and includes some vintage interviews with those who worked on the film.
2.A commentary track also done by Enno Patalas.
3.A nine minute featurette on the restoration of the film, several still galleries, cast and crew biographies and some text pages about the film.
Die Nibelungen - This epic film is based on a thirteenth century Nordic saga and includes a fire breathing dragon, treacherous dwarfs, magic swords, and barbarian attacks. The film is five hours in length and is split into two parts. Like Metropolis, this film has some terrific special effects. It is oversimplifying matters to say that if you liked "Lord of the Rings" you'll like this film, but it is probably true. The special features include:
1. "On the set with Fritz Lang" which is an excerpt from a German short. It shows Lang working at Ufa Studios and filming a scene.
2. A five minute reel of production sketches intercut with scenes of the finished product from the movie.
3. "Slaying the Dragon" contains information about the most memorable scene in the movie and includes the original production design, a photo of Lang filming the sequence, the sequence itself, and a similar scene from Douglas Fairbank's "Thief of Baghdad", released the same year, where that star fights a dragon too.
4. Behind the scenes photos with captions.
5. "About the Master", which is a text piece detailing the origin of the master and the lack of tinting on the print.
Spies - This is a suspense/action film that uses sparsely decorated sets compared to the visual feasts of the previously described two films. This film has been circulating in an 89 minute version, but Kino has restored it to 143 minutes in length. The plot involves the head of a large bank, Haghi, who has an elaborate and thorough network of spies. Haghi has stolen secret documents, had people killed, and generally has the British Secret Service running in circles. The government retaliates by putting Number 326, their best spy, on the case, Haghi is wise to the plan, and responds by assigning his best agent, the Russian Sonja to seduce him. However, things get complicated when she and 326 fall in love. The extra features for this film are an image gallery of production photos, advertising for the film itself, and a trailer for the 2002 reissue of Metropolis.
Woman in the Moon - This was Fritz Lang's last silent film. It is a science fiction adventure in which a scientist, Professor Georg Manfeldt, had theorized that there were large supplies of gold on the moon. He was ridiculed by his peers and disgraced because of this. However, a wealthy industrialist believes Manfeldt's theory and has been building a rocket to travel to the moon. when a group of wealthy men who control the world's gold supply feel threatened by the possibility the theory may be correct, they threaten to destroy the rocket unless one of their agents, Turner, is allowed to go on the expedition too. Apparently Lang's film got so much right about space travel that the Germans seized the models used in the film as state secrets when they started their own rocket-building program. This film runs 169 minutes and is quite slow in places. It has some very interesting and thrilling scenes, but it is probably the weakest of the four films in the set. The only extra feature is a photo gallery of production stills and promotional material.
Kino, as always, has done a great job of restoring these early films, and I highly recommend the set for anyone interested in early German cinema or in the works of Fritz Lang. This set may seem expensive compared to those public domain copies of some of these films that are in circulation, but particularly in the arena of silent film you truly get what you pay for."