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Destiny (1921)
"Der müde Tod" (original title)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,943 users  
Reviews: 29 user | 22 critic

When a woman's fiancé disappears, Death gives her three chances to save him from his fate.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Young Woman / Das junge Mädchen / Zobeide / Monna Fiametta / Tiao Tsien
Walter Janssen ...
Young Man / Der junge Mann / Franke / Giovan Francesco / Liang
...
Death / Der Tod / El Mot / Bogner / Archer
Hans Sternberg ...
Mayor / Bürgermeister
Karl Rückert ...
Reverend (as Carl Rückert)
Max Adalbert ...
Notary / Notar / Schatzmeister / Chancellor
...
Doctor / Arzt
Erich Pabst ...
Teacher / Lehrer
Karl Platen ...
Pharmacist / Apotheker
Hermann Picha ...
Taylor / Schneider
Paul Rehkopf ...
Grave-Digger / Küster
Max Pfeiffer
Georg John ...
Beggar / Bettler
Lydia Potechina ...
Landlady / Wirtin
Grete Berger ...
Mother / Mutter
Edit

Storyline

As a young couple stops and rests in a small village inn, the man is abducted by Death and is sequestered behind a huge doorless, windowless wall. The woman finds a mystic entrance and is met by Death, who tells her three separate stories set in exotic locales, all involving circumstances similar to hers. In each story, a woman, trying to save her lover from his ultimate tragic fate, fails. The young lady realizes the meaning of the tales and takes the only step she can to reunite herself with her lover. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

death | wall | stranger | china | fiance | See All (45) »

Genres:

Fantasy | Thriller

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

30 January 1922 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Between Two Worlds  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alfred Hitchcock's favorite film. See more »

Quotes

Junge Maedchen: You dread, awful cactus, you!
See more »

Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une vague nouvelle (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Fritz Lang's First Great Film
2 November 2001 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

Der Mude Tod/Destiny(1921) was the film where Fritz Lang began sharpening his trademarks of emotional and visual motifs. Focuses on themes Fritz Lang obsessed over in film and life. For instance, the conflict between love and death is faced by many protagonists(male or female) in numerous Fritz Lang pics. From Destiny(1921) to the director's final film, 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse(1960), Fritz Lang was occupied in his work by philosophies on death, life, love, notion of the after life, and redemption. The visual brilliance of Lang's later Silent films can be traced to this feature.

Figure of death is a compelling and sympathetic Lang character whose task is not an easy one. The character of death in Destiny(1921) does what is required of him without any subjective bias on the people he has to collect. Bernhard Goetzke puts on screen with his performance the most fascinating portrayal of death in a motion picture. The figure of death in Destiny(1921) is a lonely and sad figure whose wish is to do something else. The title of the film refers to death's inability to move outside of his destiny.

Der Mude Tod/Destiny(1921) was influential to directors of the silent and sound eras. Luis Bunuel was impressed by its amazing visual and sad qualities(thus the film became an influential force in most of Bunuel's work). It wouldn't be surprising that Destiny(1921) also influenced Ingmar Bergman especially with The Seventh Seal(1957). Other filmmakers influenced includes Enzo G.Castellari, Mario Bava, Roger Corman, and Terry Gilliam. The film's influences can be looked at in films as Lisa and the Devil(1972), Masque of the Red Death(1964), Keoma(1976), and Brazil(1985).

Candleroom sequence is a moment of floating beauty and surreal grace. The candleroom is an extraordinary visual set with a great deal of imagination put into it. The Candleroom is symbolic of the place where the Grim reaper watches over to see whose candle(life) will be put out. An excellent effect involves a candle glow dissolving into a baby. The Candleroom sequence has some terrific visual effects that blow away the CGI of today's motion pictures.

Contains a slateful of extraordinary visuals typical of a German Expressionistic film of that time. In films such as Destiny(1921), Fritz Lang used an aura of expressionistic imagery to display different emotions from his main characters. Visual use of the camera reaches its climatic level during the three tales. An example of why silent films where for the most part a great visual experience compared to many sound pictures. Destiny(1921) matches the astonishing imagery of Die Nibelungen(1924), Metropolis(1927), and Dr. Mabuse Der Spieler(1922) with excellent visuals of its own.

Out of Sympathy for a woman whose beloved died, the grim reaper gives her a chance to save one of three lives as exchange of return of beloved. Tale one takes place in Persia with forbidden love affair between Arab woman and Western adventurer. Tragic tale that benefits from director's imaginary use of Persian locations. The female protagonist attempts to save the adventurer to no avail. Least interesting of the three tales and most slow moving.

Second tale involves a love triangle with the city of Venice as the story's backdrop. The woman of this tale is promised to a man of well known prestige who she doesn't love. Her love is to someone who is not popular and the opposite of her finace. Includes an ingenious death plot that is similar to a situation in Marquis De Sade story, ERNESTINE:A SWEDISH TALE. Her plans ends up in a manner that the woman least hoped for.

The Imperial China tale is the third and best of the three tales. Magnificent camera effects gives it a mythical quality that creates a feel for the spectacle. An astonishing effect and maybe the director's most amazing effect in his silent films involves the creation by a magician of an army of toy sized soldiers. Deals with the Emperor of China who wants the magician's female assistent who is loved by the male assistent. Magical feeling of the amazing and bizarre is what makes the third tale something fantastic.

"Love is Stronger than death" is a good title for a potential documentary of the life and film works of Fritz Lang. More than any other line in a Fritz Lang film, "Love is Stronger than death" represents a summary of Fritz Lang's filmography. "Love is Stronger than death" deals with Fritz Lang's ideals about metaphysical love that goes beyond the confines of the mortal world. Destiny(1921) deals with this notion with use of abstract and metaphysical imagery. "Love is Stronger than death" can also be applied to the films of Mario Bava because of his similar fatalistic take on the topic of love.

After watching it for the first time, I consider Destiny(1921) among the director's finest silent films. An act of courage is performed by the heroine thus making her a tragic figure. Acting from the cast shines with moments of expressionistic beauty. Magificently envisioned by a master of expressionistic filmmaking. Destiny(1921) shows Fritz Lang's growth as an artist and his capabilites to become a legendary film director.


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