A beautiful young drifter comes to a small village and battles Death itself to save the man she loves.


(as Frank Wysbar)


, (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Credited cast:
The Young Man
The Minstrel
Peter Voß ...
The Man in Black (Death)
Gerhard Bienert ...
The Wealthy Landowner
Eduard Wenck ...
Mayor Hegemann
Karl Platen ...
The Old Ferryman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ernst Stimmel ...
Mimi Thoma ...
Singer (Heidelied)


Maria, an enigmatic young drifter, takes over the job of piloting a tiny ferry in a small secluded village after the mysterious death of the former ferryman, and one night gives a ride to a wounded man. Later, when Death comes to claim his life, she tries to save him by engaging the Grim Reaper in a delirious dance of doom. Can true love triumph in the face of certain destiny? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

occult | See All (1) »





Release Date:

23 December 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death and the Maiden  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Tobis Klangfilm)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The last classic German Expressionist film of its kind made in Germany before the film industry was swallowed up by the Third Reich. See more »


Remade as Strangler of the Swamp (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

Nice photography highlights folk story
21 September 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An elderly ferryman gets called one night to take a passenger dressed all in black. The passenger stares intently at the ferryman, and the elder man faints to his death. Time passes. A woman, skittish of lawmen, arrives in the village. In need of work, she takes over the ferrying duties. One night she saves a wounded man. Soon after, the stranger in black from the beginning visits the village.

Some of the other comments have observed a stylistic connection to Dreyer's Vampyr. This is true to an extent, although Fritz Lang's Destiny, with its protagonist confronting Death, is an equally valid comparison. Ferryman Maria is a more populist work than either of these. This might explain why it has been somewhat forgotten.

For the first half, Ferryman Maria has a slow, rustic feel which makes for less than stirring viewing. The film picks up when Death comes to town. In addition, the film is given a major boost by the setting and the photography. The film looks to have been filmed on location. The cinematography gives the story a timeless quality. This is especially true of the rousing, faith based climax. This helps to make Ferryman Maria a moderately entertaining fantasy.

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