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Tutor - Dr Ken Fox 22/10/10

European sensibility meets the hollywood genre system -


Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang (1890 - 1976)


Born: Vienna
Died: California

Lang's German Films - See Blackboard


• Worked across opera, art, theatre and film
• Themes - Crime and Punishment, Love and lust
• Metropolis (1927)
• Lang was a great myth maker - elaborated the stories that he tells.
• M (1931) Sound film - made only after a few years of invention of sound in film. Original
version (not remake).
• Fritz Lang was the maker of the use of shots in serial killer/ the serial killer theme
Lang arrives in Hollywood
• Lang leaves Germany because of forced Nazi job offer to join propaganda machine
• In 1935 he is given one picture deal at MGM by David O. Selznick.
Lang in Hollywood
• Lang loved westerns and pulp fictions since boyhood.
• Made 2 western films with European twist:
• The return of Frank James (1940)
• Western Union (1941)
• Both western films showed his versatility and adaptability to the genre system.
• Lang had limited budget when working in Germany.
• Later films link him strongly to the development of film noir in Hollywood.
The antecedents of film noir in German cinema: The influences Lang brings with
him to Hollywood.
• German expressionism
• Expressionism attempts to give shape to psychological state through stylised visuals -
particularly (in the movies) using sharply exaggerated shadows and high-contrast lighting
disorientating set design and off-kilter camera angles.
• Strassenfilm (street film)
• Kammerspielfilm
Film Noir - is it a genre? Is it a style? Is it defined by recurring narrative elements?
• Film noir is an amalgam of all of these paradigms in conversation with one another.
• Distinctive visual style: low-key lighting, increased depth of field, use of wide angled
lenses distorted foreground by shooting and lighting hiding as much as it reveals.
• The inevitability of fate and the complex operation of love, lust, jealousy, betrayal, crime
and punishment.
Lang's films noir
• Lang's earlier themes of crime/punishment, the criminal life, detection and conviction
come to the fore in a range of films set in American cities where violence, lust and the
inevitability of fate dominate his characters and the setting.
• Solid citizens in Women in the Window (1944) and Scarlett Street (1945) are destroyed
by their "own capacity for sexual enslavement" (McArthur, 972: 75/76).
• Portraying women as being a trap for men. Men getting trapped in the women's " Web".
Christopher Hull
Tutor - Dr Ken Fox 22/10/10

• The Big Heat (1953).

Christopher Hull