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Destiny (Der Mude Tod)

One of the early triumphs of German Expressionist Cinema, Destiny was Fritz Lang's first internationally acclaimed picture, and had a direct influence on Douglas Fairbanks' The Thief of Bagdad as well as other American silent movies. The film is a visually impressive parable of Death, rendered in highly symbolic dream images that suggest the inevitability of Fate and the mortality of Love. An unearthly Stranger joins a happy couple at an eerie Transylvanian inn, and later the young boy disappears behind a huge wall protecting the Stranger's domain. In despair, the girl experiences a three-part dream set in fabulously conceived replicas of Renaissance Venice, a Moslem city, and China; each dream relates the story of a young couple pursued by a cruel tyrant and separated by an Angel of Death. As in many German silents, the pictorial beauty and architectural majesty of Lang's compositions are expressed in a series of images that follow one another in an almost anti-climactic fashion, at least if one considers montage the essence of cinema.

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