Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#176 Post by knives » Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:57 am

Frau is stylistically much more normal for Lang, but the story is also very different. I think in a lot of ways these three show him exploring style and narrative just to see what he likes and how that fits into a commercial product. While Harakiri is probably the one he ran with the most afterward there do seem to be little ideas and characters in each that last all the way to the '60s.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#177 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:48 pm

The Big Heat. I don’t have much to say with this revisit. This is pretty flawless (it will stay near the top for me, I suspect for quite a few other people too) although in some ways the visual style feels somewhat impersonal because it’s so smooth - it doesn't have that Langian eccentricity like some of his other movies (House by the River, say). The intensity of the violence is so striking, though, and that does create a somewhat apocalyptic/traumatic feeling that echoes back to the “world gone mad” tone of Lang films starting in the silent era. Darkimbecile mentioned the vengeance-seeking “rogue cop” – and yes it’s another one in a series of Rogue Males in Lang’s work, and of course the most striking resemblance is with the parallel near-sadistic vigilante protagonist of Fury.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. I have a fondness for this one, despite its obvious imperfections (Andrews’ - alcoholism-induced? - acting, for one). I certainly can’t see how it can be called “garbage”. It’s certainly an important work to the extent that it plays up a lot of major Lang themes. The capital punishment theme links directly to M, and also to some extent YOLO. More significantly, there’s the quintessentially Langian plot tied to the masterminding protagonist (in T. Gunning’s words “The undoing of an author-like character, an enunciator who hubristrically seems to control the unfolding of the film’s story”, that is at the core of so many of his movies), and the significant accompanying attempt-at-control-of-the-media trope. This actually makes it just on the outer edges of my top 10!

---

There are some Lang films that haven't been discussed yet. Any thoughts on Secret Beyond the Door? I finally saw this when Olive put out the blu but I didn't think it was a keeper. I thought it was fairly ambitious piece in the tradition of the psychoanalytic thriller but with stronger shades of Hitchcock’s Rebecca. It frequently looks beautiful and there are some good scenes throughout, even though it starts off unimpressively and ploddingly. The various qualities don’t quite make up for some faux pas throughout, however, and the silliness of the plot.

Also still waiting to see what anyone else other than matrix thinks of Cloak and Dagger.
Last edited by Rayon Vert on Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#178 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:06 pm

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt struck me as humdrum filmically- Lang seemed to have tired himself out on While the City Sleeps, and it had none of the verve nor the great character moments- and the plot ties itself into such knots that it contradicts the point it appears to be trying to make. Without Lang's name on it, it would feel like one of those inoffensively mediocre entries that Sony uses to fill out their Noir boxes, but I think in this case it being a Lang work- and one that absolutely is tied into some of his core themes and obsessions- makes its weaknesses that much more glaring.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#179 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:48 pm

I'll just note that BARD does seem to have its defenders among some critics, though, who see formal qualities in it. Derek Malcolm makes a short case for it (some spoilers). It made it to no 94 in his top 100 movies. The BFI's Matthew Thrift placed it in a list of 10 Lang "essentials".

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#180 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:55 pm

Your acronym shows me this should have been called Beyond a Reasonable Fear

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#181 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:45 pm

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. I'll sneak this one in quickly before matrix makes any other commenting superfluous. I have (very) occasionally some of the same problems with this one as with M in regards to some scenes involving the investigation, where the suspense and horror tones are weakened somewhat with longer-than-necessary, slower, semi-comic detours. (Although that's a bit like Hitchcock in that regard, or Ford, which isn't generally a problem for me.) But I experience this to a much lesser degree than M. Overall, I truly enjoy the apocalyptic darkness that's mixed in with the action-suspense, like Spione but even more so, that truly makes it memorable, there are many wildly fun scenes, and I think the (often extraordinary) visuals are probably the strongest of any single Lang film. Wasn't counting on it initially, but it will make my list.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#182 Post by Drucker » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:12 pm

Rayon Vert--your comments about both The Big Heat and Secret Beyond the Door are in line with my thoughts for the most part.

Secret is kind of a disaster and probably the least favorite of the films I've watched so far. At least the weak parts of Man Hunt and Western Union are just sort of dull filler. Secret was aggressively annoying and bad. It's all style and no substance, and seems to check off a bunch of Lang archetypes without doing anything interesting with it. Spooky surroundings? Check. A wall full of masks for no apparent reason? Check. Eerie overtones in opening scenery? Check. And just in case you can't tell what an eerie film we have for you, let's have an almost endless voice-over narrating every minute change of emotion in our male protagonist, which by the way, never really makes any sense at all. Joan Bennet is constantly weirded out but does nothing about it and keeps on repeating the same pattern over and over again, without ever establishing just why she loves her husband so much. This movie is weird because we tell you it's weird over and over. Bennett stays with her husband because well she tells you she loves her husband. But the Lang-ian designs and shots never click with the story. More than anything this feels like Lang's failed attempt at making a Universal horror picture.

The Big Heat on the other hand was a film I enjoyed immensely more than I did the first time I saw it a few years ago. I recalled little about the film except being disappointed, quite possibly because I had sky high hopes. The film is focused, draws you in, and is wonderfully bleak. But as Rayon says above, it is a bit "slick." What I love about Lang is the uniqueness and eccentricity of his films, yet this feels like any number of great noirs. A superb film, but perhaps just not that special? It could crack my list but still trying to make it through a dozen more films...we'll see how many I actually get to.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#183 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:29 am

Drucker wrote:Secret is kind of a disaster and probably the least favorite of the films I've watched so far (...) It's all style and no substance
Well if you haven't yet, and do end up checking out Cloak and Dagger, you might find it has neither substance nor style. ;) (From what I remember of it, anyway.)

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#184 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:55 am

I know what you guys mean about The Big Heat feeling a bit slick- it's got a sheen absent from stuff like Scarlet Street- but I think it remains very distinctly Langian in its nastiness and its intensity, both in how far the Ford character is pushed (though Lang isn't interested in interrogating male violence the way someone like Nick Ray was, I think he is interested in where revenge becomes ugly and fascistic, and Ford is certainly confronted with that line) and even moreso in the arc Gloria Grahame goes through. She gets both a level of interiority that's rare for this kind of movie and also a separate but equally powerful moral calculus, one that reaches a result that's difficult to picture anyone but Lang putting on screen, except maybe like a Robert Aldrich, much later.

Secret Beyond the Door might fairly be added to the list of movies where Lang seems to be drafting off Hitchcock- it's not just Rebecca, but Suspicion as well- but I thought it played into Lang's strengths in terms of style well enough that I didn't really mind that the actual story felt like a gothic romance with no real payoff.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#185 Post by TMDaines » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:15 am

I agree with everyone on Secret. It feels like such a poor knock-off of many other films from around that time.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#186 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:20 am

Best thing about Secret Beyond the Door is how Chabrol uses it so blatantly as a reference point in Merci pour la chocolat

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#187 Post by Shrew » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:20 am

Secret feels like someone tried to make a movie with a blender. It's not a bore because it consistently throws out interesting images or ideas (the murder rooms, Mexico, the somber wedding, the veiled woman, the figure in the fog), but none of them sticks around long enough to develop. On the other hand, Cloak and Dagger tries to develop all its plot angles and really drags. It doesn't help that the plot turns the least interesting direction at every junction, becoming progressively duller as it goes. We go from undercover spy to proto-Bond sex as espionage to guerrilla underground to spy trauma to bland romance.

Hangmen Also Die!--This looks lovely on the Arrow bluray, and I'm sure that crispness of image won me over in a way that might not have happened with a murkier transfer. Even then, I enjoyed this as an "evil" take on the procedural. In many ways, it's an update on M, following how two different but intertwined worlds conduct investigations around the same events and try to counter each other, only now the police represent absolute evil. The recontextualization of the standard tropes and techniques is chilling.

Liliom--This Lang film feels like a Borzage film, while the (very weird) 1930 Borzage film feels like a Lang. The cinematography has a shimmer that feels more French poetic realism than any period of Lang. However, the afterlife sequences do feel apiece with Lang's oeuvre and feature some pretty great shots, like the image of Liliom and the "angels" floating upward away from Liliom's body. And as much as Metropolis gets referenced as an influence on Dark City, the angels here seem to be the real inspiration for the look of the watchers in that film. Boyer is pretty perfect casting as an awful cad that people can't help but love anyway. Really, there's lots to recommend here, and I feel like this film has gotten unjustly ignored in Lang's canon.

That said, it's hard for any amount of good to make up for the ending, an apology for domestic violence that still feels all too typical of today. It's one thing for an abused lover to still love their abuser or forgive them. It's quite another for that forgiveness to earn the abuser a ticket to heaven.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#188 Post by TMDaines » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:23 am

Shrew wrote:Secret feels like someone tried to make a movie with a blender. It's not a bore because it consistently throws out interesting images or ideas (the murder rooms, Mexico, the somber wedding, the veiled woman, the figure in the fog), but none of them sticks around long enough to develop.
Yes, that's the thing! It's not a bore, it's actually thoroughly watchable, but just leaves you shrugging at the end.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#189 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:57 pm

I've just gotten through Seigfried, though I haven't yet seen the second part-

There's an interesting arc to the way this movie is told just in terms of how complicated the people in it are- in the beginning, Siegfried seems almost a wild man. He makes a sword, apparently, for the sheer delight of doing so. He decides to pursue Kriemheld, as far as we can tell, because she's the first woman he's ever heard of. He kills the dragon because it's there, and he overthrows Alberich and takes over his kingdom sort of one moment at a time, without ever appearing to have any kind of plan. He doesn't have any allies, and he's dressed in ragged furs. This Siegfried isn't necessarily likable- though the charming weirdness of the dragon made his slaying of it seem crueler than may have been intended (perhaps this was intended? The dragon is killed in a watering hole in a way Siegfried's own death later echoes!)- but he does not seem immoral, more a sheer, shining force of nature.

As soon as he enters the court, though- before we are even introduced to any women- things change. He has vassals now, kings who follow him, and he's wearing courtly clothes. Kriemheld does alter his nature by intervening to stop him simply smashing the court apart, as he appears poised to do- but the intervention is to get Siegfried to go along with a plan which ultimately deceitful and dishonorable, and one that will eventually cause all the misery we see- a plan hatched by Gunther and Hagen, to allow Gunther to win a woman he has no right to. Things spiral from here- Siegfried seems comfortable enough winning the contests to gain Gunther the hand of Brunhilde (by cheating) but has the first crisis of conscience anyone in the movie has when asked, apparently, to dominate her so thoroughly she will not resist when her husband forces her to sleep with him. Honestly, Brunhilde's wounded nastiness seems entirely justified; she's in a place she hates, married to a spineless worm of a man, forced into this situation by dishonor and cheating. We see a contrasting scene of Brunhilde and Gunther, Brunhilde slumped on the floor after Siegfried has attacked her, unable to resist, cut with Siegfried and Kriemheld celebrating their love in courtly fashion- but ultimately, the ugliness of the one stains the apparent purity of the other.

The take on women here did seem pretty ugly- Kriemheld is unbelievably stupid, first being baited into giving away a secret she JUST promised to keep, then being baited into setting up her husband's murder, and Brunhilde manipulates men into action with what appears to be a false rape accusation- and from what I understand, it's only going to get worse. But the ultimate fault of all of this seems to lay with Gunther's weakness, Hagen's willingness to enable him in it, and the courtly setup in which neither strength nor justice prevail. The battle lines drawn at the end of the movie, over Siegfried's body, are between all the men of the court and all the women- none of the men are willing to acknowledge how culpably dishonorable and stupid their leader's actions have been.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#190 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:18 am

Shrew wrote:Liliom--This Lang film feels like a Borzage film, while the (very weird) 1930 Borzage film feels like a Lang. The cinematography has a shimmer that feels more French poetic realism than any period of Lang. However, the afterlife sequences do feel apiece with Lang's oeuvre and feature some pretty great shots, like the image of Liliom and the "angels" floating upward away from Liliom's body. And as much as Metropolis gets referenced as an influence on Dark City, the angels here seem to be the real inspiration for the look of the watchers in that film. Boyer is pretty perfect casting as an awful cad that people can't help but love anyway. Really, there's lots to recommend here, and I feel like this film has gotten unjustly ignored in Lang's canon.

That said, it's hard for any amount of good to make up for the ending, an apology for domestic violence that still feels all too typical of today. It's one thing for an abused lover to still love their abuser or forgive them. It's quite another for that forgiveness to earn the abuser a ticket to heaven.
I'm going on notes from a less recent viewing. I had noted that underneath the more obvious storyline there’s commentary about the different justice available to the working class. I felt the material was executed imaginatively and poetically, but that Charles Boyer’s character isn’t very appealing and is painted in such broad strokes that emotionally the end result is a bit blunted.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#191 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:28 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:This Siegfried isn't necessarily likable-
I had also observed that in my original viewing. From my viewing notes: There’s something absolutely crazy in the ambition of this film, epic-sized in all senses. The results straddle both the silly and the sublime, but most often the latter. The sets, the costumes, the whole production design, as well as the direction of the actors (except a sometimes rather superficial and insufficiently sympathetic Siegfried), are all immensely terrific and awe-inspiring for the most part, and give the epic-scoped material its proper mythical dimension. Meanwhile, in contrast to silly or draggy parts, the ending, with its strongly drawn out parallels to Christ’s betrayal and death, is quite moving, especially in Kriemhild’s distress, while truly attaining something noble and majestic in tone.

K's Revenge I originally felt was more thrilling in its truly mythic passion and action, but on my last viewing I was getting a little bored with the duration of the apocalyptic ending. I imagine that's the type of thing I could feel differently about depending on the mood I'm in at the moment of viewing.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#192 Post by Drucker » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:45 pm

Just watched Testament of Dr. Mabuse to confirm it's still my number one and my admiration for it has only grown. It's a perfect film that captures everything Lang does well. And it really stands out because while the charm of so much of his work can be the awkward imperfections, this film somehow has none of it?

Stylistically, this has everything I love in his film, especially for that early sound period. The opening scene is absolutely perfect and the way it uses machine sound to build suspense is brilliant. The film has a really nice mix of calm procedural scenes, chases, shootouts, and experimental moments, but it was actually far less maniacal than I had remembered. I haven't revisited Spione yet but it again reminds me of that film. The action sequences are fast and furious and crazed, but there's a ton of downtime spent figuring out what's going on by all parties.

The admiration for Lohmann is also comical. In M the criminals of the city can hold their own. Here...they seem to be shaking in their boots at the mere mention of the inspector. And yet it doesn't feel awkward or weird, either. But Lohmann's performance is obviously extraordinary and so central to the film. Regarding the main plot of the film: what's best of all, perhaps, is that it's never really solved. Only Baum seems to actually know what is really happening, where other persons involved have the wrong idea about what's happening and do not know the supernatural nature of what they are experiencing.

I don't want to give Lang too much credit for using this film to expose what he saw as the Nazi menace (as we know he liked to embellish his own history), but the film really is timeless, especially for our current political moment. On top of that, more than any Lang film I've watched as part of this list, this film is so perfectly of its time. With the exception of the post-World War 2 paranoia in The Big Heat, I don't think any other Lang film captures their social moment so well. Yes, Lang made many films set in contemporary times, but the mania and paranoia of pre-Third Reich Germany, from the economic anxiety to the slavish devotion to the people and plans taking advantage of that anxiety, is perfectly captured and really gives the film a consistent feeling. A maniac spends years preparing a plan to take over the moment the historic political order loses legitimacy and plans to utilize that moment to execute his paranoid and amoral agenda? This film is a sci-fi/fantasy film, rooted in the issues of its time, and yet its more relevant than most of his work.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#193 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:05 am

You Only Live Once. If Thunderball seemed to take itself a bit too seriously at times, this next installment suffers a bit from over-correcting in the opposite direction… Oops, wrong film. :lol:

I was waiting for the blu to arrive in the mail to revisit this one. I’m of a similar mind to Drucker this time. He said the Fonda character was a bit “aw-shucks” at the beginning. And it’s true he’s a bit too well-groomed and -behaved for a guy who’s already had three criminal counts against him. I think the beginning and ending parts of the film aren’t as strong as the tremendous middle sequences having to do with prison and the jailbreak. Lots of Expressionist “shadows and fog” here, giving the film, along with the way the prison sets are designed, a strong tone at this point despite the obviously smallish budget (the film feels a bit cramped most of the time, we rarely have wider angles onto larger, more open sets).

When Fonda’s character goes berserk with injustice and despair, there’s again the “good guy” getting near-psychotic in his rage, as in Fury and later The Big Heat. Not only a Wrong Man, but a righteous and dangerous Wronged Man. The film’s power dwindles somewhat with some of the more awkward, less well-executed elements in the last sections, but it rises again in the very last moments with that delirious, otherworldly martyrdom scene.

This used to be in my Top 5-7, but now slips to 11 and just outside my list.

This was my last viewing for this project. Great fun hanging out with Fritz, and all of you, this past while. It’s always a little sad when these projects end, but luckily there are other attractive ones on the horizon!

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#194 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:50 pm

Reminder that with the extension lists are due a week from tomorrow. Eight lists in so far and seven different films have been named as a member's number one pick!

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#195 Post by Drucker » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:09 pm

Another re-watch to confirm its place on my list and Fury is probably number two for me. The suspense of this film hits me like no other Lang film does, and as someone that feels strongly about its political message, it personally hits me like a ton of bricks. For a film that is so thematically similar to its immediate follow-up You Only Live Once it's almost shocking how much better this film is.

Compared to its successor, this film starts off far better. Tracey is a far superior actor to Fonda, at least at this point in their careers. More importantly, there is less of a see-saw feel in the tenor of this film. We don't start out with a sense of unbridled optimism, and are instead dropped in to the protagonists lives as they are about to be separated for a period of time. In addition, there are little touches such as the ring that won't fit and Tacey's ripped pocket, which though it becomes a plot point later on, is useful at the beginning as a warning that things may not be so perfect for this little couple. Tracey's temper even makes an appearance while he yells at his brother, a far cry from Fonda's "aw-shucks" schtick early on. Lastly, the small asides like critiques of media and political opportunists landed very effectively.

The film never loses momentum, and from the attempted lynching to the trial, the pacing is fantastic, the actors are great, and everything clicks...I found myself on the edge of my seat. But there's also a striking number of ways that this film stands out in Lang's oeuvre. For one thing: how little of Tracey there actually is in this film! His presence is strong, but it easily feels like he's off-screen for half of the film. Another way this film stands out is, upon re-watching, I'm shocked at how little "Lang-ian" visual flourishes there are in this film. The intensity and the suspense of the film is right in line with his brand, but YOLO has a lot more swampy, shadowy, lowly-lit scenes. This fits very well as a classic Hollywood film (even with some MGM singing!), and that balance between major studio and Fritz Lang Production works better here than any other film I've watched thus far.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#196 Post by Drucker » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:45 pm

Not sure what to say about House By The River except that it was mostly terrible. I'm sort of shocked at the admiration for it here, earlier in the thread. Yes, the scene where the brothers, individually, go out to visit the body in the river is far and away the best. At that point, I thought the film would take a full-on turn to melodrama and seductive guilt. But the trial scene was dreadful, and the protagonist is just so absurdly, over the top evil among a group of better developed, more likable, more realistic characters. The trial scene, which was actually an "inquest" was interesting in comparison to the super-realistic Fury earlier today. Rather than a real court, a real trial, and a real judge, it was just a bad excuse to have snappy dialogue between the brother's and the State. Not sure it would ever be legal, but the judge even eggs on someone on the stand to expand their answer!

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#197 Post by noirbuff » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:06 pm

Just a quick ranking of Lang films that I've seen.
1. Human Desire
2. The Big Heat
3. The Woman in the Window
4. M
5. The Blue Gardenia
6. Hangmen Also Die!
7. Man Hunt
8. Clash by Night
9. While the City Sleeps
10. Scarlet Street
11. Ministry of Fear

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#198 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:52 pm

Thanks for submitting a list, noirbuff! For any other new participants who would like to contribute a list, please PM me your list in lieu of posting it in the thread. Once the final results are posted, then everyone can freely share their full lists in the thread if desired

Human Desire at number one is a bold choice-- I'd love to read your thoughts on it, noirbuff

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#199 Post by Drucker » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:58 pm

Scarlet Street is better and somehow far different than I remembered it. While I remembered most of the events of the film, and my recollection that Kitty was a nasty woman (hey now) was spot on, the entire tone of the film had been forgotten. What a unique noir! One of the funniest moments I've ever seen in a noir is when Robinson is leafing through the paper, excitedly talking about the man that murdered his wife. Robinson plays a fool, quite contrary to his character in Woman In The Window (or Double Indemnity, for that matter). Yet it's fully believable and he earns the sympathy I felt while watching this film.

The dark turn it takes in the last twenty-five minutes or so is all the more effective because of the relatively light nature of the preceding events. What a dark ending, to leave our protagonist without any closure at all. Absolutley sensational.

There's an obvious symmetry to Fury/YOLO/You & Me and WITW/Scarlet Street/Secret Beyond the Door. The only one I haven't gotten to yet is You & Me, but I find the best film in each of those loose trilogies is actually the one that doesn't] have a strong amount of "Lang-esque" stylistic scenes. Fury and Scarlet are tremendous stories that rely on mood, great acting, and great storytelling, but do so with less visual flourish.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#200 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Aug 28, 2017 11:33 pm

Kriemhild's Revenge

This movie made me honest to god angry, in a bunch of different ways. I'm just going to spoilertag, though it seems silly for something like this.
SpoilerShow
The whole movie turns on the idea that Kriemhild is willing to go to any length to avenge the death of Siegfried, and that she's wrong in her willingness to do so. It punishes her constantly- she's isolated, locked into a state of unfeeling immobility except when raging, bargaining herself away as a tool to gain the power for revenge, and in the end, killing all of her brothers (and her, too) as a consequence. This desire for vengeance is obviously parallel to Brunhilde's in the first half- both demand that their husbands betray their code to avenge their own wrongs. Yet for some reason, Gunther- who was perfectly willing to betray his blood brother Siegfried, causing all of this- will not allow Hagen, who actually deserves punishment, to receive it, no matter what. And the thing is: Hagen murders a BABY in this movie. He does so in a context where it is an obvious provocation, and is clearly the act that, much more than Kriemhild's anger, gets the court of Burgundy killed- had he not done so, they could have defended themselves just as easily until Attila was able to regain order, and then just left. His action is what makes them legitimate targets. Yet there is never even a question that he should be handed over because it would be justice to do so- we are told that this is German honor. But again, all of this was motivated in the first place by a betrayal of exactly that honor in circumstances much lest justifiable!
There are a lot of interesting things in this, in terms of the representation of the Huns- I'm not entirely sure of how we're supposed to take them. The actual common people among them look and act very much like the dwarves in Siegfried, hairy and primitively armed (though the movie seems to be cheating, since Attila's court existed around the 300s, and the Burgundians appear to be using weapons and armor from something like a thousand years later) and Attila himself looks almost like the modern portrayals of orcs. The movie even represents him as having the elongated skull associated with skull binding- though I can't imagine that would be especially helpful to a warrior. Yet Attila himself is the one man in the series who genuinely never loses or compromises his honor- fascinating, given that his name is almost always associated with historical monstrosity. We get a lot of interesting shots, too- a particularly memorable one is when Kreimhild is standing halfway down a stair case, screaming at the Huns to kill Hagen- the geometrical pattern of her garb, combined with the geometry of the staircase, creates a fascinating effect, and gives her great power, as does her stillness throughout the movie.

I think there was some discussion earlier in the thread about this movie being two unrelated stories, stitched together, and that comes through- there's no magic in this one, nothing especially fantastic, and we don't spend much time with any of the overlapping characters except Kreimhild and Hagen. The tone is very different as well, though there are some rhyming elements- the whole movie is spent in one court or another, with nothing resembling the relative innocence of the early scenes of the first part. The actual era the movie is taking place in has to be stretched to the breaking point, too. There was also discussion about the idea that women are the destroyers of order, which I can see- since, as far as the movie is concerned, everything bad that ever happened is DEFINITELY the fault of Brunnhilde and Kriemhild, and not of the men who behaved dishonorably towards them in the first place- but it's fascinating that one of the sources of order being destroyed here is the court of Attila the Hun, interrupted in the process of, we are told, sacking Rome. I suppose that's fine, as long as it's orderly.

I can't help but to think I'm being stupid here, since a lot of spectacle movies have bad politics or bad implications in their plots- Metropolis, for one, and I adore Metropolis- but to me, it felt overwhelming here, inescapable.

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