Fritz Lang

By: Tim Carmody
December 5, 2010

The Austrian Hitchcock, FRITZ LANG (1890-1976) infused taut, narrative genre thrillers with literary intelligence and precise, architectural visuals. Trained in art, engineering, and graphic design, Lang became a writer/director in Berlin after the Great War. Between 1922 and 1933, Lang and his wife/co-writer Thea von Harbou created an astonishing run of films, including the newly-restored science-fiction epic Metropolis, the decade-spanning Dr Mabuse crime trilogy, and his masterpiece, M, where Peter Lorre’s serial killer tries to slip between the imagined overlapping networks of the police state and criminal underworld. Lang’s films channeled and help define the anxieties of Weimar-era Germany: crime, economic uncertainty, urban industrialization, the mechanization of the middle class, and the entrancing spectacle of high-information new media. Lang eventually broke with his wife, left Germany for France and then America, bringing with him an embellished, if not apocryphal story of flight from the Nazis that became more exciting every time he told it. Although a successful émigré director in Hollywood, he never had as much control over his films as in his German period. He was eventually lionized as a classic cinema auteur, even playing the part in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris (1963).


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