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DVD review: Old Lang signs

By PETER KEOUGH  |  November 8, 2012

Fritz Lang shaped much of cinema history. He made one of the first superhero movies with Siegfried (1924). He anticipated the conspiracy thriller with the Dr. Mabuse movies. Metropolis (1927) set the template for much sci-fi to come. M (1931) established the cinematic serial killer. After he fled the Nazis for Hollywood, Lang helped develop film noir. Then he dipped into the New Wave, playing himself in Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt. The three early films in this outstanding Kino DVD show the origins of Lang's genius.

That doesn't mean they are all masterpieces. Two of the three are a bit rough around the edges but offer invaluable insights for Lang fans. In The Wandering Shadow (1920) a woman makes the mistake of falling for the author of a book advocating free love. She gets tangled in a contrived narrative of unlikely coincidences and ironies. More complicated is Four Around the Woman (1921), in which two of the four men are twins, one is a Mabuse-like criminal, and the fourth looks like Joseph Goebbels. A rich, if uneven start, and Lang would soon fulfill its promise.

Oddly, the earliest film comes closest to the mature work. An adaptation of Madame Butterfly, Harakiri (1919) dazzles not with its story but its images, an otherworldly domain of flowers and décor that is as transporting and suffocating as those in Lang's best movies.

FRITZ LANG: THE EARLY WORKS :: Three DVDs :: Kino Classics :: $39.95

  Topics: Reviews , Fritz Lang, review, film,  More more >
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