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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 <email@example.com>
The films of Weimer Germany are an interesting and exciting period to study. They share a rich cultural heritage, similar themes and revolutionary film styles and techniques. "Destiny" (Der Müde Tod) is the earliest mature work I've seen from Fritz Lang, one of the period's principal filmmakers--much better than the Spiders films. It's expressionistic, in the loose sense usually applied to these films, which is to say it's thematically dark and, occasionally, photographed and designed intentionally to affect mood and express emotions. An exceptional crew of cinematographers and art directors, as in many of the best films of the period, support the director.
Yet, I think the narrative has its faults; the frame narrative is great, but only the last of the three episodes within was entertaining--for its light and magical treatment. In the film, a girl's young lover dies, and Death offers her three tries to resurrect his life. The episodes are flimsy at times, but some impressive imagery and powerful performances by Lil Dagover and Bernhard Goetzke make up for much of that. Additionally, the exotic Arabian, historical Venetian and Chinese settings for the three inner episodes are well rendered, surely, but it's the haunting graveyard scenes and the meetings with Death, especially the room of candles scenes, that I'll remember. They're not merely exotic; they're otherworldly--the atmospheric, moving and imaginative places I want movies to take me.
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