On January 10, 1927, the Ufa (Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft) production of “Metropolis” had its grand premiere at Berlin’s Ufa-Palast am Zoo cinema. Directed by Fritz Lang, using state-of-the art special effects and massive sets, with a running time of 3 hours plus, Metropolis told the story of a dystopian future, merged with a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl sub-plot.
The film built on a science-fiction undercurrent in German expressionist cinema, which had already emerged in The Cabinet of Dr. Claigari (1919) and Nosferatu (1927) was the first modern science fiction epic.
Commerical theatre owners at the time, who preferred 90 minute running times, butchered the film’s 17 reels by ‘cutting’ them, and, at a time when projectors were hand-cranked, cut some more time by projecting at 26 frames per second, instead of the then-standard 16 frames per second.
The jumpy disjointed jerky result was not quite what Lang intended, but nevertheless emerged as a cult classic – and gains in popularity each year.