The English title of Fritz Lang’s 1921 Der Müde Tod, or Destiny, may well be snappier, but the literal translation – The Weary Death – is surely the more poignant. Overshadowed by the director’s finest work, Der Müde Tod is minor Lang, but deserving of this restoration.
Der Müde Tod opens with a strange man (Bernhard Goetzke) arriving in a German village, claiming he is a weary traveller wishing to buy a plot of land to grow a garden. If his black garb, sunken eyes and solemn demeanour don’t clue you into his identity, then his “garden” with its graveyard location, surely will. Prefiguring Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Death is no villain but rather a weary servant of God. After Death takes a young man’s life (Walter Janssen), his fiance finds her way into his walled garden and pleads with him to restore her lover’s life.
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