As technology improves and an increasing number of films are made, it is easy to have earlier films lost, embellished, and buried within history. Therefore, when the footage of a presumed lost film does survive, intact and is restored, it is important to consider what made it worth preserving in the first place. Fritz Lang’s 1921 film DESTINY (DER MÜDE TOD) solidifies Lang as a rarity in an already new industry. It serves as an example of a film that remains relevant nearly a century later. The tale’s simplicity is deepened by his technical mastery and unique form of storytelling, which hints at Lang’s future success as a filmmaker. It’s the rare type of film that clearly articulates one of the most complex principles that make up our humanity: Love and Death.
Tag: Fritz Lang
When MINISTRY OF FEAR’s hero Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) steps out of the mental asylum in the middle of the night to confront his new life, we already have a sense that things are not going to look all that bright for him. As he promises his doctor that he’ll stay out of trouble and live a quiet life, we’re already dreading what awaits. We owe this feeling to director Fritz Lang’s eerie setting, lighting and pacing. As expected, Lang does not waste any time before he turns his hero’s life upside down.
M (1931) is the portrait of a city united against itself. The efficiency of Fritz Lang’s technique and the ambiguity of its implications are summed up by that lonesome letter, which Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) discovers himself branded with—seared into the back of his overcoat in stark chalk strokes. Fear swims in the bulging white glass of his eyes. Tubbier than in his early Hollywood period, the 26-year-old Lorre looks as much like a golem as a cherub. His waxen moony cheeks, snub nose, and pouting lips make him as delicate as the dolls in the toy store window where Beckert sees himself reflected, accompanied by a little girl. If Beckert doesn’t know what the mark stands for, he does know what it means. The question is no longer whether he’ll be caught, but when—and by whom. M is for murderer. M is what he’s reduced to.
By Peggy Nelson
Citizen Kane – 1941 – dir. Orson Welles
“Rosebud:” possibly the most famous single word in cinema.
Orson Welles was only 25 when he made Citizen Kane (1941), consistently nominated as the greatest film ever made. Said to be based not-so-loosely on the lives of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and the comedienne Marion Davies, and often taken as a psychological study of Welles himself, Citizen Kane traces a classic American rags-to-riches trajectory, as it examines the true cost of getting everything you want.