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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Fritz Lang Film., 10 April 2008
Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Destiny [DVD] [1921] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
DESTINY or to be more precise TIRED DEATH (as the film was originally known in Germany) was the first big international success for Fritz Lang and his collaborator Thea von Harbou. She would marry him after this film and be responsible for his scenarios until Lang left her and Germany in 1933. They made quite a team with von Harbou's romantic quasi-mystical stories softening the hard edge of Lang's no-nonsense direction. He gave her stories depth while she gave his films compassion.

I digress about Lang and von Harbou because DESTINY reveals the various aspects of their developing relationship while engaging us with its allegorical story of Death and Love triumphant. The plot is relatively simple. In an old German village Death takes a young maiden's fiance' and she tries to get him back. If she can prevent any one of three characters from suffering a preordained fate (hence the English title DESTINY) Death will restore her loved one. This allows Lang and von Harbou the opportunity to use exotic locales for the three seperate stories making this one of the first anthology films. After she fails to alter their fates Death gives her one last chance. She has one hour to bring him a life in exchange for that of her betrothed. The sets, the lighting, the camerawork are all exemplary. German expressionism meets Scandinavian pastoral meets film noir. The performances may seem exaggerated in places but remember this was not meant to be realistic. Bernhard Goetzke however is outstanding as the weary but compassionate Death.

This video version is taken from a French re-issue print that has some issues of its own. While the overall image quality is not bad, the color tints are overdone in some scenes and underdone in others. The editing in the climactic fire sequence seems repetitive and disjointed which leads me to believe that Lang's original version has been tampered with. This David Shepard produced edition restores the original text to the title cards as well as the the different styles of print used for each story which is a nice touch. The musical score by Rodney Sauer is low-key and melancholy which suits the material perfectly. He also makes good use of the Romance movement from Eduoard Lalo's Piano Trio Op.7 as the theme of the young lovers.

I hadn't intended on writing a review of this movie but as DESTINY remains my personal favorite among Fritz Lang's films for its allegorical nature and striking fairy tale imagery AND having watched it several times recently I couldn't resist. Perhaps someday a full restoration will be done on the film and then it would certainly be a 5 star affair. In closing (considering the nature of the film) I should report that Thea von Harbou died in Germany in 1954 while Fritz Lang died in Hollywood in 1976.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Song of Solomon 8:6 "For Love is stronger than Death", 12 April 2006
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Destiny [DVD] [1921] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
A young betrothed couple is traveling and stops at an unnamed town on their travels. Here the young man's (Walter Janssen) time on this world has expired and the Grim Reaper (Bernhard Goetzke) has taken him away. Distort and refusing to believe the situation is hapless his fianc?e (Lil Dagover) reads that love is stronger than death. So death strikes a bargain with her. If she can save one of three men that are also about to expire she can save her betrothed.

The three people are from different lands and times. As each story unfolds we see that the same actors that played the original people also play the main characters in each scenario.

Will she succeed in the task by saving one or more of the soon to expire men?

If she does not succeed, is there any hope?

What would you do given the choices?

Who is to say what love really is?

This is based upon a dream that Frits Lang had as a child.

The only drawback on this version of the movie is that they use different fonts on the verbal displays in this silent film to depict the different eras and scenarios. It takes time to get use to the different fonts.
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