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Friday, October 7, 2016

Der Mude Tod (aka Destiny) (1921)

When  her fiance (Walter Janssen) is taken from her, Death (Bernhard Goetzke) makes a deal with a young woman (Lil Dagover) that if she can prevent three deaths from occurring, he will restore her lover to her. Directed by the great Fritz Lang, the film's status is derived from its visual elements rather than its narrative. Lang uses the three deaths scenario to give us three different stories set in three different time periods: an exotic Arabian fantasy, a renaissance romance in Venice and an adventure in old China (the best of the three segments). All three are ocular treats that move beyond mere eye candy. The combination of romanticism and expressionism was highly influential and caught the eye of such film makers as Hitchcock, Bunuel and even Douglas Fairbanks Jr. who borrowed from the Arabian sequence for his THIEF OF BAGDAD. Its message that life is precious even to the most miserable among us is done with a discreet irony. Also, it's notable that Death is portrayed kindly rather than something to fear like in THE SEVENTH SEAL. The three lead actors get the opportunity to play in all three tales as well as the wrap around story. With Rudolf Klein Rogge.

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