Unboxing the Silents: Two restored Fritz Lang films on Bluray

Exciting news for Fritz Lang fans! Two of his genre films, Spies and Woman in the Moon, are about to be released on Bluray in North America with sparkling 2K transfers! Both discs will be available for sale on February 23, 2016 but I got an early peek and I’m sharing the experience with you.

As always, a huge thanks to Kino Lorber for the review copies.

The Films

While Metropolis is Fritz Lang’s most famous silent film and probably tied with A Trip to the Moon for the title of Most Famous Silent Sci-Fi, it was not our intrepid director’s only foray into science fiction. 1929’s Woman in the Moon is smaller in scale but praised for its more sciencey sci-fi.

I dig the Bluray cover, inspired by a vintage poster for the film.
I dig the Bluray cover, inspired by a vintage poster for the film.

Spies is a real treat, a nimble and ruthless espionage adventure from a director who, frankly, likes to take his sweet time. There’s plenty of technical virtuosity but it has a wonderful playfulness to it.

spies cover

Both films were shortened for American release but have since been restored to something resembling their original Teutonic length. Spies clocks in at 150 minutes while Woman in the Moon is 169 minutes.

The Look

Both films look fantastic, considering their age and the crisp new transfers make for an enjoyable viewing experience. The films are from the same restored sources as Kino’s 2004 DVD releases so there’s no new footage or anything like that but the higher resolution transfers are definitely worth a look.

One of many playful angles used in "Spies"
One of many playful angles used in “Spies”

The films retain their original German intertitles with optional English subtitles.

Radio towers in "Spies"
Radio towers in “Spies”

The Sound

A Woman in the Moon is accompanied by a moody piano score performed by Javier Perez de Aspeitia and Spies gets a rousing piano score from Neil Brand.

Sci-fi trends come and go but white robes are forever.
Sci-fi trends come and go but white robes are forever.

On a side note, the 2004 Kino DVD releases of these films featured excellent scores from Donald Sosin (Spies) and Jon Mirsalis (Woman in the Moon). If you enjoy shaking things up with more than one choice of silent film accompaniment, I recommend checking these scores out. You can never go wrong with too much good music.

Ill-met but moonlight. Or is it earthlight? Hmm...
Ill-met but moonlight. Or is it earthlight? Hmm…

The Extras

Woman in the Moon includes a short making-of documentary and Spies includes a feature-length documentary, as well as the original German theatrical trailer.

I'm spying on you! Spy! Spy!
I’m spying on you! Spy! Spy!

Both Bluray releases are up to the usual quality of the F.W. Murnau-Stiftung and are recommended to Fritz Lang fans looking to upgrade their collections.

Availability: Both films are Region A Blurays and have a February 23, 2016 release date but are available for pre-order.

You can get pre-order info for Spies on Bluray here or, if you prefer not to wait, you can also get Kino’s 2004 DVD version now.

Pre-order information for Woman in the Moon is available here and you can also order Kino’s 2004 DVD release.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received copies of these films for free for the purpose of reviewing them on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

6 Comments

  1. nitrateglow

    I need to try Spies again. It played on TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights years ago and I ended up falling asleep. Woman in the Moon looks cool too.

    Lang sure does like to take his time. I have a hard time warming to him, actually. I love Metropolis as a style over substance film and admire M, but Scarlet Street is the only film of his I have loved thus far. Maybe it’s the noir feel and Edward G. Robinson’s presence… or maybe it’s just that the film is under two hours long lol.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      I like Spies a lot, it’s remarkable how fully-formed the James Bondian film was– three decades before Dr. No. Woman in the Moon is fairly controversial; some people love it and some people hate it. It’s not really my favorite but I think everyone should see it for themselves. It has a smarter core than Metropolis, which is admittedly pretty easy.

      For sound Lang, I think M is brilliant and I also rather enjoyed Man Hunt in spite of Walter Pidgeon’s Pidgeonishness. Tidy little thriller and George Sanders gnaws up all the scenery.

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