Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 5th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Germany, 1921
Director: Fritz Lang
Writers: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
Cast: Lil Dagover, Walter Janssen, Bernhard Goetzke, Hans Sternberg, Karl Rückert, Max Adalbert, Wilhelm Diegelmann
BluRay released: July 24th, 2017
Approximate running times: 116 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo with original German intertitles
BluRay Release: Eureka Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £19.99 (UK)
“A young woman confronts the personification of Death, in an effort to save the life of her fiancé. Death weaves three romantic tragedies and offers to unite the girl with her lover, if she can prevent the death of the lovers in at least one of the episodes. Thus begin three exotic scenarios of ill-fated love, in which the woman must somehow reverse the course of destiny: Persia, Quattrocento Venice, and a fancifully rendered ancient China.” – Synopsis provided by the Distributor
Der müde Tod (Destiny) was co-written and directed by Fritz Lang, a filmmaker who is most remembered as one of key contributors to German Expressionism. Notable German films directed by Lang include, Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Metropolis, Spies, Woman in the Moon and M. Notable Hollywood films directed by Lang include, Hangmen Also Die!, Scarlet Street, Clash by Night and The Big Heat.
One of the five cinematographer’s on Der müde Tod (Destiny) was Fritz Arno Wagner whose other notable films include, Nosferatu and Diary of a Lost Girl. The screenplay was co-written and adapted from a novel written by Thea von Harbou (Fritz Lang’s wife when this film was being made). Their collaboration would span twelve years culminating with the film The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse.
Though love stories have long been a staple of cinema. Far too many of these films present Love in an unrealistic way that are bogged down by happy endings. Then there are films like Fritz Lang’s Der müde Tod (Destiny), a film that perfectly captures the essence of love.
At the heart of the film is a story about woman who has just lost the man she loves. And unable to move on, she makes a deal with The Grim Reaper in hopes of reuniting with the man she loves. Unfortunately for her fulfilling such a request comes at a great cost. And in this film’s extraordinary ending, she is faced with the ultimate decision.
Structurally the film is bookend with scenes that involve the young woman mourning the loss of her lover and The Grim Reaper. With the bulk of the film’s narrative being made up of three other tales about doomed lovers. And the young woman character assumes the role of the object of desires of three men who all have tragic endings.
Once again Fritz Lang’s creates haunting imagery that perfectly reinforces the mood of the story at hand. Standout moments visually include, a scene where the young woman and The Grim Reaper are in a room filled with candles that represent lives. And film’s moment of truth where the young woman is forced to choose between reuniting with the man she loves or saving the life a baby who is trapped in a burning building.
Der müde Tod (Destiny) comes on a 50 GB dual layer (29.9 GB) BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer for this release comes from a 2k restoration that was created by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and this is also the same source for Kino Lorber’s Region A Blu-ray release. And the end results is excellent presentation that is by far and away this film has looked in a very long time.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix with German Intertitles and included with this release are removable English subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear, balanced and robust when they need too. The score for this release was composed by Cornelius Schwehr and performed by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Frank Strobel.
Extras for this release include, a video essay by David Cairns (15 minutes 27 seconds) and an audio commentary with film critic Tim Lucas.
Topics discussed in the video essay include, how the film got its English language title Destiny, the role that fate plays in this film and other Fritz Lang films, screenwriter Thea von Harbou and her creative partnership with Fritz Lang and his thoughts about the film.
The audio commentary with Tim Lucas is an insightful track that provides information about the film and Fritz Lang.
Rounding out the extras is a forty-four page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled How Fritz Lang forged his Destiny written by Philip Kemp, an essay titled Films worth seeing (Sehenswerte Filme) written by Kurt Pinthus, Production and Restoration Credits and Viewing Notes. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Der müde Tod (Destiny) gets an exceptional release from Eureka Video, highly recommended.