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Destiny (1921)

Lil Dagover , Walter Janssen , Fritz Lang  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lil Dagover, Walter Janssen, Bernhard Goetzke, Hans Sternberg, Karl Rückert
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Writers: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
  • Producers: Erich Pommer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Silent
  • Dubbed: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 7, 2000
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004Z4VE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,680 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Destiny" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This beautiful gothic fantasy was inspired by a childhood dream of its writer/director, Fritz Lang, who first gained world recognition with this film's triumph. "Destiny" is the story of a young man taken by Death just as he is to be married. His lover makes a deal with the Death figure--if she can save one of three possible lives, her fiance will be returned to her. Otherworldly atmosphere is created by extraordinary, bizarre sets, gothic lighting, and eccentric characters combined with spectacle and camera trickery astonishing for its time. With its many magical and haunting images, "Destiny" still possesses real power to impress the imagination!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Weary Death June 5, 2001
Destiny is not a particularly good title for Fritz Lang's Der Müde Tod. Translated literally the title means `The Tired Death' and this is much better, for the film is about Death being tired of the work he has to perform. The figure of Death thus becomes a fairly sympathetic character trying desperately to help. When he is appealed to by a young woman who has just lost her fiancé, he gives her three chances to bring her beloved back from the dead. Lang shows a room full of candles each representing a human life and then shows three of these candles flickering and about to go out. The task that Death sets the young woman is to save any one of the three lives represented by the candles. Lang then shows the woman and her fiancé in three stories representing each of the candles. These stories are wonderfully imaginative and present vivid images of Persia, Renaissance Venice and China.
Lang's film is full of amazing special effects including a flying horse and flying carpet sequence which influenced Douglas Fairbanks when he made The Thief of Bagdad. However, it is the emotional atmosphere of the film which makes it truly memorable. Lang shows the desperation of the young woman and makes us care about her plight. But it is with his image of the compassionate Death that Lang really shows his originality. This is a Death wishing and willing to resurrect the dead and going as far as he can, because he cares about the woman and her fiancé also. Finally Death becomes a caring friend wrapping his arms around the couple. It is an ambiguous image, but one of great power.
The quality of the print used for this Image DVD is superb. It is colour tinted in a variety of shades and shows very little damage.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Groundbreaking Work of Early Expressionist Cinema February 23, 2002
By A Customer
Image has earned itself a reputation for high quality, digitally remastered DVD editions of films from the silent era (though, admittedly, they do have a few dismal releases to their name), and their growing catalogue of early Expressionist cinema is particularly exciting. The present DVD edition of this early Fritz Lang film features yet another outstanding transfer, digitally remastered from a 35mm fine grain master print of the French reissue version. Moreover the transfer preserves the film's original "square" aspect ratio with vertical black bars and a horizontal bar at the bottom of the frame (in other words, there is either NO or very minimal cropping). In addition, as already highlighted in other reviews, this Image release provides newly translated English intertitles, some of which were missing in previous versions, and which reproduce the font of the original titles. My only complaint with this Image release is that it is a barebones edition, which shows not just in the absence of audio commentary (which I can live without, as long as the transfer is good), but in the clumsy menu options and scene access, as well as in the austere packaging. These concerns, however, are quite peripheral.
With respect to the film itself, a previous reviewer has provided a marvelous narrative and thematic exposition of the film which I will not bother to repeat. Though one of Lang's lesser known works, Destiny is a truly groundbreaking and highly poetic piece of cinema. As with Ingmar Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL, Fritz Lang's DESTINY (Der Mude Tod) succeeds in remythologizing familiar allegories and symbols of death and infusing them anew with eloquence and expressive force. Bunuel's confession that this film opened his eyes to "the poetic expressiveness of cinema" is not in the least bit hyperbolic
In sum, I highly recommend this DVD edition.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Love is as strong as Death May 10, 2005
A young couple, very much in love, stop off at a tavern in a small 19th century German village. A gaunt, grim faced stranger joins them. Just recently the stranger had purchased a 99-year lease on a tract of land adjoining the village's cemetery. The stranger had built an impregnable, `without door or gate', wall about the estate.

The stranger, of course, is Death, and within the walls of his `garden' reside the souls of the newly dead and the innumerable candles whose flames melt the tallow of all human life. Death attends the young man he is about to claim. The woman leaves the room for a moment, and when she returns the stranger and her beloved are gone. The woman gives chases, sees the shade of her beloved pass through the impassable wall to Death's garden. An old apothecary finds the distraught woman and shelters her in his pharmacy. The woman drinks a potion from an ancient bottle and is again in front of the walled garden - although now there is a door opening to a steep staircase. The woman enters and meets Death of the staircases. I want to go where my beloved is, the woman tells him.

Death strikes a bargain - if the woman can save the life of just one of three whose candle has grown short, he will return her fiancé to her.

I liked Fritz Lang's DESTINY (Der Müde Tod) a lot. Death's bargain plunges the movie into three episodes, as the actors playing the loving couple and Death reenact endangered love stories in Arab, Italian and Chinese settings. Lang employs primitive, and effective, tricks - camera angles, double exposures, etc. - to show the dead filing past the living, to make carpets fly and to transform pagoda into elephants. Underpinning it all is the fascinating struggle between Death and Love.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Love vs. Death
The story is interesting - a bargain with Death, to restore the loved one take from her. She is assigned three tasks ...

Well, I won't spoil it for you. Read more
Published 13 months ago by wiredweird
5.0 out of 5 stars A hidden masterpiece from Fritz Lang.
If you are familiar with Lang's other films, Destiny will bring you further appreciation of his art. Death is not a feared entity, but a tired, weary presence. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jerome H. Rubin
1.0 out of 5 stars History of film, OK, but....
This film is Ok for the history of film, but as a 'great film', I supose it was great 100 years ago. Not worth your money unless your a fanitacial film buff.
Published on November 30, 2011 by fuzzy123
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Film
One of the greatest films ever made. Profoundly moving and beautifully done throughout. A young and bitterly grieving widow conspires with Death to cheat Fate in an attempt to... Read more
Published on March 21, 2011 by Billy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Parable
A young couple meets and falls in love.

Tragically, the woman loses her man.

Her love is strong, so she has the power to chase down death himself. Read more
Published on October 26, 2010 by Steve Reina
5.0 out of 5 stars "Love is as strong as death"
Though this movie wasn't Fritz Lang's first, it was the one that catapulted him to fame.

And viewing this classic shows why. Read more
Published on October 24, 2010 by Medusa
5.0 out of 5 stars Mighty love!
The enormous importance of "Destiny" resided as a perfect transient movie that linked two key stages in the cinema. Read more
Published on June 5, 2009 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars "Love is stronger than death"
"Destiny" is surely Fritz Lang's most unusual and memorable silent film, standing out from his very different commercial successes with popular themes about crimes and intigues in... Read more
Published on May 24, 2009 by Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC VISUALS!!
"Destiny" shows how early Fritz Lang developed his amazing visual style, which would reach its peak with his two-part "Die Nibelungen" (1924). Read more
Published on April 22, 2009 by Philip Leibfred
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best silent films ever
The special effects of this film are simply amazing for their time. Coupled with that, the acting is equally superb with no arm-throwing, eyelash-batting overly melodramatic acting... Read more
Published on October 28, 2008 by Tsiri 2006
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