Fritz Lang’s penultimate silent film, Spione (Spies), is a flawlessly constructed labyrinthine spy thriller. Hugely influential, Lang’s famous passion for meticulous detail combines with masterful storytelling and editing skills to form a relentless story of intrigue, espionage, and blackmail.
An international spy ring, headed by Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), uses technology, threats, and murder to obtain government secrets. As master spy, president of a bank, and music hall clown, Haghi leads several lives using instruments of modern technology to spearhead a mad rush for secrets — secrets that assert his power over others.
Setting in stone for the first time many elements of the modern spy thriller, Spione remains remarkably fresh and captivating over 75 years since its first release. Lang carefully reveals the elaborate methods of the spies as they move through his unknown city, no doubt creating a mirror of troubled Weimar Germany. Made by Lang’s own production company and, like M and Metropolis, written by Lang with his wife Thea von Harbou, Spione is “the Grandaddy of decades of intrigue epics. In its rigorous austerity it remains the most modern of the bunch.” (Elliott Stein, Village Voice). —Eureka Entertainment
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
Masks, lies, disguises, spies, murder, blackmail, greed, manipulation, violence, money, corruption, circles, alcohol, depression, luck and bad luck, tunnels, walls, trains, secrets, sewers, illusions, shadows, evil, theatre, images, cinema. Haghi, the villain, as an anouncement of fascism and moral decay; as the absolute illusion, hidden within ourselves. "Let the curtain fall!" Is death the only way out?
The mass hysteria of modernity viewed through the prism of pulp fiction. Lang's expressionist universe of secret agents, femme fatales, and criminal masterminds whirls with a dizzying speed and often spirals into abstraction; its principle pleasures lie in its byzantine construction, its emphasis on espionage, double-crosses, cloak-and-dagger machinations, and the pervasive use of telecommunication and surveillance.
In honour of the anniversary of Fritz Lang's birth, I watched this film for the first time, and thought it was an excellent adventure, albeit not on the level of his most celebrated works which isn't a complaint. A bit lengthy at 143 minutes, though never dull or boring, plus we get some impressive action sequences and plot twists. The groundwork, perhaps, for future Bond films.
DEATH CANNOT STOP TRUE LOVE. ALL IT CAN DO IS DELAY IT FOR A WHILE. Capitaine Fracasse, based on a novel by Theophile Gautier. Directed by
This is my favourite of Fritz Lang’s silent films. It’s lighter in tone than the MABUSE films or any of Fritz’s other films but it’s no less acute in its social observations. The villain is a Mabuse… read review