Der müde Tod, which translates into Weary Death or as it’s more commonly know as Destiny, is one of Fritz Lang’s early silent cinema masterpieces. It wasn’t quite a success when it was first released, in Germany it wasn’t German enough for audiences and in the U.S. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. bought the distribution rights and then didn’t release it because he wanted to copy some of the film’s special effects for his then upcoming (1924) The Thief of Bagdad. But the film garnered success and fans upon later screenings.
The movie follows a young woman (Lil Dagover) whose lover (Walter Janssen) has been taken by Death (Bernhard Goetzke). The young couple had arrived in town and Death appears and takes the young man. Death has built a giant wall with no entrance so the young woman takes poison to commit suicide after reading that “love is stronger than death.” She meets Death who tells her it isn’t her time. She makes a bargain with Death. If she can save the life of one of three men he’ll let her lover go.
The three men are three men in different tales all played by Walter Janssen. The first tale is set in old Arabia and the second is set in Renaissance Italy. The third tale is set in old China and that tale involves flying horse and flying carpets which was the effects that Fairbanks wanted for his movie.
Destiny has recently been restored and after some limited theatrical screenings Kino Lorber is releasing it on Blu-ray at the end of the month. This is an entertaining movie and showcases what Lang’s future films would be like. It’s not Dr. Mabuse, Metropolis or M great but it’s pretty damn good.