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Fritz Lang: The Early Works

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Fritz Lang: The Early Works + Spiders: Kino Classics Edition + Spies
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Editorial Reviews

HARAKIRI (aka Madame Butterfly) (1919): O-Take-San (Lil Dagover) is a beautiful young woman pursued by an evil Buddhist monk (Georg John) who wants to make her one of his many geishas. She has an affair with the Danish officer Niels Prien (Olaf J. Anderson) who leaves her alone and pregnant. O-Take-San considers ritualistic suicide when she is abandoned in this tragic melodrama directed by Fritz Lang (Metropolis).

THE WANDERING SHADOW (aka The Moving Image or The Wandering Image) (1920): After the death of his brother George, John Vanderheit expects to inherit his fortune. Unfortunately, just before he died, Georg made a will in which he bequeathed his entire estate to his wife, Irmgard. Unwilling to yield to John, she escapes and undertakes a hazardous journey into the mountains where she meets a kindly hermit who offers her shelter. John is not far behind, however, and when Imrgard repulses him he causes an avalanche in an attempt to kill her. Trapped in the hermit's shelter, she discovers a truth that will change their lives forever.

FOUR AROUND A WOMAN (1921): In search of an expensive present for his wife Florence, wealthy stockbroker Harry Yquem visits a shady jewel market frequented by crooks and other undesirables. Here, he sees a man whom he recognizes from a photograph in his wife's possession. Suspecting that the man, William Krafft, is his wife's lover, Yquem follows him to the hotel where he is staying. He writes a letter in his wife's handwriting inviting Krafft to his house so that he can confront him and extract a confession. What Yquem does not know is that Krafft has a twin brother, Werner, who has just returned to town with the intention of renewing an old love affair with Florence. Another man, Meunier, knows the truth of Florence's past indiscretions and intends to exploit this for his own gain.


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Product Details

  • Actors: Lil Dagover, Georg John, Olaf J. Anderson
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 238 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00917IQ1I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,080 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on November 11, 2012
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When I saw this set announced, I was surprised and delighted as I was completely unfamiliar with any of these movies. I must have read about them in Patrick McGilligan's thorough 1997 biography of Lang but I don't recall them. Then again they haven't been available for home viewing until now. All three are based on earlier restorations from the 1970s and 80s but are only just now coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. While they were fascinating to see, they're definitely a mixed bag and are unlikely to be of any real interest to anyone outside of silent film enthusiasts and/or Fritz Lang completists.

Film #1: HARAKIRI (1919)- This was by far the weakest of the three despite being based on MADAME BUTTERFLY and featuring Lil Dagover. With a few exceptions, the film lacks the dynamic Lang visual flourishes and the story, as presented, is just not that involving. It does have great sets and costumes and HARAKIRI was released with a killer poster which is reproduced on the DVD cover. The best silent version of MADAME BUTTERFLY is the 1922 early Technicolor film TOLL OF THE SEA with a teenage Anna May Wong.

Film #2: THE WANDERING SHADOW (1920) - Although not the best of the trio, THE WANDERING SHADOW was my personal favorite and was the first collaboration between Lang and future wife Thea von Harbou. The story involves a proponet of free love, a woman on the run, and Christian mythology involving the Virgin Mary. The strong but tormented female lead was Mia May who specialized in these types of roles and the Alpine location shooting looks forward to the mountain films of Arnold Fanck. While the film is melodramatic and improbable, it is highly entertaining.

Film #3: FOUR AROUND THE WOMAN (1921) - This film foreshadows the Fritz Lang that most people are familiar with.
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Fritz Lang, the legendary filmmaker who will be known for epics such as "Metropolis" and "Die Nibelungen", films such as "M" and "Fury" and most notably, the "Dr. Mabuse" films.

But for every filmmaker, before they accomplish success, their is that beginning where they have directed films that have not received much attention and are literally forgotten.

In November 2012, Kino Lorber released the 3-DVD set "Fritz Lang: The Early Works" which feature his 1919 silent film "Harakiri", the 1920 silent film "Das Wandernde Bild" (The Wandering Shadow) and his 1921 silent film "Vier um die Frau" (For Around the Woman).

What makes this set quite appealing for cineaste is that many of Lang's earlier films did not survive and the only way people know of these earlier films was through reviews on publications such as "The Kinematograph", "Der Film" or "Lichtbildbuhne". And while his first two films "Halbblut" and "Der Herr Der Liebe" may not be accessible, fortunately films such as "Die Spinnen" (The Spiders) and "Harakiri", "Das Wandernde Bild" and "Vier um Die Frau" have been released in the U.S. on DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

It's important for people to remember that each of the three films presented in "Fritz Lang: Early Works" were considered lost for many decades. So, with that being said, the fact that a print of these once lost films of Fritz Lang has been found, is a miracle. It's also important for people to know that a lot of silent films at the time were not taken care of. They were seen as disposable entertainment not mean to be rewatched as the era never realized that people would have an interest in these classic films.

I must first add the preface that these films are watchable.
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