Paula Felix-Didiér, of the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires, found a real treasure — a nearly complete print of one of the most sought-after missing films, Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece Metropolis.
It was long assumed that Lang’s original cut was forever lost — but apparently one 35mm nitrate print made it to Argentina. This print was used for distribution, and was quite beaten up. Before it was lost, someone made a low-quality 16mm dupe negative of the print — and that is what Felix-Didiér discovered. The dupe negative was not in good shape. Several of the world’s best restoration labs were invited to compete, to see who could do the best work restoring the material.
In July 2009, Algosoft got an urgent request from Alpha-Omega, one of the best restoration labs, well known for their 2001 restoration of Metropolis.
Alpha-Omega director Thomas Bakels sent Algosoft samples of the newly-found materials. Bakels felt these materials were “unrestorable,” but he wanted to know if VIVA could help.
After Algosoft’s Inna Kozlov and Alex Petukhov examined the footage, they were excited about the challenge — not only because it was an important piece of film history, but because it was a perfect test for their new fully-automated de-flicker algorithm. The flicker in the Metropolis footage wasn’t ordinary flicker. It consisted of bright moving splotches with sharp edges. When Algosoft sent their test results to Alpha-Omega, Thomas Bakels wrote: “I can’t imagine any of the other companies delivering something good as you just showed me.” In August 2009 Algosoft was informed that their test won the competition organized by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation.As a result, Alpha-Omega purchased a seat of VIVA, and it has been used to remove the dramatically flicker from damaged footagе.
Here’s the initial test footage — before and after. Note that this test was only an attempt to fix the flicker, not the scratches or other damage.
Museo del Cine Pablo C. Ducros Hicken