Monday, 21 April 2014


“In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director.” - AlfredHitchcock

In movies, the director has become one of the most important people who manages the way that the final motion picture will look and “feel”. The art of controlling the evolution of a performance out of material composed or assembled by an author is the business of the director. It is the director who works together with the cinematographer and actors in order to bring the script to life.

A good director will be able to get the actors to say their lines well and believably in a milieu that is consistent with the scriptwriter’s vision. An excellent director will take the script and actors and make a film that lives and breathes according to the vision that inspired the author. A director who is a genius of his craft will create a piece of art that cannot be expressed in any other medium and will remain a classic of cinema – a unique film that melds together the author’s script, the actors’ action and the scenes that have been captured optimally by the cinematographer, all according to the director’s inspiration.

Fritz Lang was an Austrian-born American motion-picture director who is considered to be a genius amongst directors. He was born December 5th, 1890, in Vienna and died August 2, 1976, Los Angeles. His films deal with the concept of fate and how a person may deal with the fate that has been meted out to him, such that each person may best make his own destiny work for him. His films are masterpieces of visual composition and were at the forefront of the art of the cinema when they were first released. They have remained classics and even today, and even watching a Fritz Lang silent film can be extremely rewarding.

The son of an architect, Lang briefly studied architecture at Vienna's Technical University, then travelled widely before settling for a time in Paris as a painter. While recovering from wounds suffered in the service of Austria during World War I, he started to write screenplays; after the war he went to Berlin to work with Erich Pommer, a German film producer.

Recently, we watched a beautifully restored version of Lang’s Metropolis (1926) on DVD. This is silent film and despite its shortcomings still manages to remain a powerful and wonderfully expressionistic vision of the future. The struggle of an individual against the establishment is the theme and the images are quite stunning, even if the plot is rather predictable. It is one of he silent classics and well worth seeing it.

M (1931), is Lang’s most famous German film, this exploring the compulsion of man to murder. Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1932; The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse), in which a madman speaks Nazi philosophy, attracted the attention of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis’ chief propagandist, who invited Lang to supervise German films. Lang left for Paris the same evening and later moved to the safety of the United States.

Fury (1936), a study of a lynch mob, is his most praised American film. Others include You Only Live Once (1937), Western Union (1941), Hangmen Also Die (1943), Scarlet Street (1945), Clash by Night (1952), Rancho Notorious (1952 with Marlene Dietrich!), Moonfleet (1955), and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956).

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