Paula Félix-Didier, head of film museum Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires, discovered an uncut version of the 1927 science fiction film when she looked into reports that a tape in the archive was unusually long. She travelled to Berlin with a copy of the film and met with experts who say they are certain it is the missing original-length version of Lang's masterpiece that reveals key plot scenes and an expansion of minor roles, Die Zeit said ahead of the publication of its Thursday edition.
"The film's original rhythm will be re-established," Martin Koerber, the man responsible for the current restoration of the film, told the paper.
Head of Berlin film museum Deutsche Kinemathek told the paper it was a "sensational discovery."
In 1927, Fritz Lang presented the film in Berlin after producing it in the city's Babelsberg Studios. At that time it was the most expensive film ever produced in Germany, but it was not well received by its German audience. A radically shorter version was subsequently edited in the US, after which historians believed the original version to have been lost.
According to Die Zeit's reconstruction of events, Buenos Aires film distributor Adolfo Z. Wilson brought a copy of the original version to Argentina in 1928. Film critic Peña Rodríguez later attained the film, which he sold in the 1960's to Argentina's national art fund. In 1992 copy then went to the Museo del Cine - where discoverer Félix-Didier took leadership this January.