Fifty Before Fifty: ‘Metropolis’ at the Electric Cinema

Last month, I ticked another item off my 'Fifty before Fifty' list when I visited the Electric Cinema in Birmingham to watch Fritz Lang's epic Metropolis.

Last month, I ticked another item off my ‘Fifty before Fifty’ list when I visited the Electric Cinema in Birmingham to watch Fritz Lang’s epic Metropolis.

The Electric Cinema is the UK’s oldest working cinema, and it’s somewhere that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. They show a mix of current releases and older films, and run a number of themed series through the year. Last summer, I watched The Shining as part of their Shock and Gore festival. But that was screened at Highbury Hall rather than at the cinema itself (you can read my write up of that evening here).

But when I saw that they were screening Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as part of their Cinematic Time Machine season, I definitely had to book for that.

Metropolis is one of my favourite films, and last year I included it as one of my list of Older Films I’d Love to See at the Cinema. It’s an epic science fiction film and is one of the first of the genre, having been originally released in 1927. I first became aware of the film because parts of it were used in the video for Queen’s Radio Ga Ga.

It’s set in a futuristic world where the workers toil underground to power the city. Above, there are pleasure parks and nightclubs where the wealthy few spend their time. There’s a romance, a mad scientist, a human-android temptress, and some pretty dramatic special effects for its time!

Much of the film was cut after its original release, and the cut footage was subsequently lost. So the only version of the film that I’d previously seen was Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 release. That was the cut version, and also had been given colour filters and a rock soundtrack. But when a damaged copy of the full film was found in Argentina a few years ago,I knew that I needed to see the new restored version in a cinema.

And where better to watch it than the Electric Cinema. The cinema was originally opened in 1909 and still has Art Deco features. But when you go through to one of the two auditoria, it’s definitely not old fashioned!
The interior of the Electric Cinema in Birmingham, the UK's oldest working cinemaAs well as standard seating, there are also a number of single seat sofas at the front. And right at the back there are a range of leather sofas so you can watch your film in comfort. Mark was driving that evening, so I took the opportunity to have a couple of G&Ts during the film. The Electric Cinema is fully licensed and has a pretty impressive drinks list to choose from.

So drinks in hand, we wandered through to find our seats. I had booked a sofa at the back for Mark and I to watch Metropolis. Booking the sofa also means that we could take advantage of the text waiter service. Yes, you can text through your snacks and drinks order and they are brought to you at your seat!

We also ordered their deli board (delicious!) and an absolutely scrumptious Popcorn Salted Caramel Shortbread from Mrs Mills Makes Cakes. That was so good that I’m thinking of ordering extra to take home with me next time!

At around 2.5 hours long, Metropolis is quite an epic but I really enjoyed the film. It took a little while to get used to the original (though re-recorded) soundtrack rather than the rock soundtrack I’m used to. But it was really exciting to see the full film as it was originally intended to be seen. And the rediscovered scenes definitely filled out some of the gaps in the storyline. Even Mark enjoyed it, and I’m not completely sure he was expecting to!

The Electric Cinema in Birmingham is a fabulous place to watch a film, especially a classic film like Metropolis. I enjoyed my visit so much that I’ve booked to watch An Affair to Remember there next month. It’s another of my favourite older films, so I’m really looking forward to that!

(Main photo used with permission of The Electric Cinema)

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