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(Müde Tod, Der)

With DER MUEDE TOD Lang applied a style at once austere and lyrical to romantic, sentimental and fantastic story material. Though one of Fritz Lang's lesser known works, DER MUEDE TOD is a truly groundbreaking and highly poetic piece of cinema. Lang's film succeeds in remythologizing familiar allegories and symbols of death and infusing them anew with eloquence and expressive force.


Subtitled “a german folktale in six parts”, this atmospheric, Expressionist-influenced work employs elaborate set design, lighting, and special effects that prefigure the brilliant architectural flare of Lang’s later films. He created images, which are quite impressive - the parade of double-exposed spirits passing through the giant wall; the masked Giovanfransesco’s arrival by underground gondola; some of the magician’s tricks including producing miniature armies out of a box and a horse that rides across the sky; and especially the scene where Death takes Lil Dagover to a room where he shows her an array of lit candles, each representing a single life.

A young girl must face Death to plead for the life of her deceased lover. Death confronts the young girl with a condition, which she must fulfill if she wishes to be reunited with her lover. He tells her three stories set in exotic locales, all involving circumstances similar to her own. She must save the life of at least one of the characters in the stories in order to be with her lover again. As she realizes that she cannot save any of them, she pleads with Death to sacrifice her own life instead. Not until she dies while trying to save a child's life from a fire is she reunited with her lover.


Cornelius Schwehr

2016 new score
  large orchestra (from 46 Musicians)    
1+1/alto+1/pic.2+1/ca.2+1/bcl.3 - 4.3.2(ten).1 - timp.2perc - hp - str