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Der Müde Tod, Fritz Lang (1921)

The English translation of the title is “Destiny.” Isn’t that sad? “Weary Death” would have been so much better. Here a young bride is robbed by Death of her vibrant young husband, and rather than capitulate to grief, she gets all up in Death’s face and demands a chance to bring her man back to life. Death is weary of being constantly seen as the bad guy–hey, he says, I’m just doing my job!–and consents to give the young woman a chance to win her husband back from the dead. Three chances, actually, the classical number of tries given by genies and folk tales the world over, and indeed this is a thoroughly bewitching and enchanting tale from the young master Lang, made when he was barely thirty years old. Featuring lots of wonderful cutting-edge special effects, my favorite among them the ghostly parade of the dead.

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