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DESTINY (Der Müde Tod) (director/writer: Fritz Lang; screenwriter: Thea von Harbou; cinematographer: Fritz Arno Wagner; music: Dr. Giuseppe Becce; cast: Bernhard Goetzke (Der Tod /El Mot/Bogner), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Derwisch/Girolamo), Lil Dagover (Zobeide/Fiametta /Junge Maedchen/Tiaotsien), Walter Janssen (Franke/Francesco/Liang/Der junge Mann); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Erich Pommer; Grapevine Video; 1921-silent-Germany, with English subtitles)
“One of the weaker Lang films.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Fritz Lang’s (“Dr Mabuse”/”Siegfried”) silent B & W Destiny was his first successful film. It was inspired by D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916) and used the same mixing parallel settings to tell multiple stories from different historical eras. Lang ruminates about the inevitability of death in this fable about love, loyalty and death. A young 19th-century woman (Lil Dagover) is offered in her dreams three chances to save her lover from Death (Bernhard Goetzke) — 1) in old Baghdad, 2) in 17th century Venice, 3) in Imperial China. It’s a somber melodrama that ranges in style from fanciful whimsy to baroque; it tries to show that “Love is stronger than Death,” and is especially pleasing for its inventiveness and enticing look. The story digresses into a morality play and becomes less effective than the visual presentation. It’s one of the weaker Lang films, but this rarely seen romantic fantasy should be of interest to Lang scholars.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”