More good news for Fritz Lang fans! Two of his important early works as director have been released on Bluray and I have all the details. Destiny (Der müde Tod) and The Spiders (Die Spinnen) show a young director rapidly finding his voice.
As always, I thank Kino Lorber for providing review copies of these titles. Now let’s get down to brass tacks.
Destiny is one of the most important films of Fritz Lang’s early career and it has received a beautiful restoration with an orchestral score by Cornelius Schwehr:
The Restoration: For full details on the restoration, do check out Interview with Anke Wilkening of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung. The short version is that this restoration brings back the film’s original colors, which is a major reason for rejoicing. We get to see the film the same way audiences would have seen it when it was released. Does it get any better?
What you get: The disc comes with the restoration trailer and an annotated side-by-side comparison of footage showing off the restored tints and tones. It runs about fifteen minutes and is unadulterated geekiness. Highly recommended. We also get an audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas. Finally, the film retains its German intertitles with optional English subtitles.
Impressions: Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow, this thing is GORGEOUS! The colors are practically edible and the music is perfect. This is a wonderful way to see Destiny, especially if you are a Lang fan.
Availability: The new restoration will be released on DVD and Bluray in North America on August 30, 2016.
While Fritz Lang is most famous for his high concept, aggressively artistic takes on genre fiction, he always left a special place in his heart for unabashed serial-style pulp. It’s no coincidence that one of the last films he directed was a version of The Indian Tomb. The Spiders is one of his earliest surviving directorial efforts, a pulpy collision of Allan Quatermain and Louis Feuillade.
Let’s dig into the disc. The Spiders is made up of two feature-length films (the third and fourth installments were never filmed) and both are presented on this disc with translated intertitles. There is an excellent score by Ben Model and this version has additional footage that was unavailable when previous restorations were created. (I will likely do a side-by-side comparison when I give this series a proper review.) The film itself has dust and scratches but it is quite watchable and attractively tinted.
Availability: The restored edition of The Spiders has been available on DVD for some time and was released on Bluray on August 23, 2016. If you are interested, the earlier David Shepard restoration is also available on DVD with a score by Gaylord Carter, so organ aficionados will definitely want to snatch that one up.