On this day in 1890, the great filmmaker Fritz Lang was born. He is primarily known for two iconic films. The first is one of the greatest silent films, Metropolis. It is visually stunning (even by today’s standards) and great story telling. Thematically, I have some problems with it. It shows the unjust class divide of that time as well as today. But it also shows the workers of Metropolis as a bunch of sheep who are easily led to do good or evil. I can well see why Joseph Goebbels loved the film and offered Lang the job of running Universum Film AG. (It was at that moment that Lang decided he had to get out of Germany. He went to France for two years and then made the very smart decision to move to the United States.) The entire two and a half hour 2010 restored print of the film is available on YouTube. But here is the trailer, which gives a good idea of just how amazing the film is:
His second iconic film was made four years later, M. It was also his first film with audible dialog. But unlike early American sound pictures, it was not staged at all. In fact, much of it has an almost neorealist feel to it. And there isn’t much to the story. There’s a man who we assume is molesting and then killing children. The town chase after him and put him on trial. And here is that scene:
He made a couple dozen films in the United States. There are generally quite good, but they aren’t revolutionary like his early work. Even still, he was critical to the development of the look and feel of film noir. And, of course, Hollywood constrained him because he remained an artist and we can’t have that now, can we? He ended his career with a couple of German productions, including the successful, The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse. Here is a terrible dubbed trailer for the film:
Happy birthday Fritz Lang!