Born in Vienna in 1890, Fritz Lang was brought up in Viennese middle-class comfort by his Roman Catholic father Anton and his Jewish mother Paula Schleisinger who both hoped that young Fritz would become an architect. But like so many middle-class children of the new century, Lang was fascinated by the pulp and fantasy literature of his day, the art world both in and outside Vienna and a potent new form of entertainment that invited artistic scrutiny and craftsmanship, the motion picture. Though the teenaged Lang attended school as his parents wished, he secretly haunted the cafe’s and cabarets of Vienna and intended to become a painter like his idols Klimt and Schile. At aged 21 Lang’s yearning took him to Paris where he lived in Bohemian splendor until the outbreak of W.W.I. Returning to Vienna, Lang enlisted in the Austrian army where he repeatedly saw combat, was wounded at least three times and decorated twice.
It was while on leave recuperating from one of these wounds… read more
Saying cinema owes him an insurmountable debt is an understatement. Fritz Lang basically invented the template for film noir (and much of Hitchcock's style). Even the more obscure films in his repertoire are harrowing to me. No other filmmaker in my opinion has realised such a palpable sense of moral ambiguity, and no other filmmaker in my opinion has exhibited such haunting thematic examples of man v. society in film.
What makes his cinema especially fascinating is it's stylistic exactitude, with just the right amount of light and shadow, the rest left to choices in camera placement and editing. Resulting in a strange, restrained, even contradictory, expressionism which relies in part upon a horrible clarity. One which reflects individuals' fever-dream reasoning, distorted and beyond logic, finding meaning and purpose in people, events and objects that would seem insignificant otherwise. Unable to discern reality from delusion. Not an ascetic, but a modernist mystic whose faith lies in the anxiety, paranoia and cruelty of humanity.
The kaiser of cinema. This dude with a camera. Was as lethal as Pelé with a soccer ball. He was beyond genius. And his work on the US was as good as his "germanic" period. Love love love love love the man-soul behind the monocle.