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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Destiny aka "Der müde Tod" [Blu-ray]

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/lang.htm, 1921)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Decla-Bioscop AG

Video: Kino Lorber / Masters of Cinema - Spine # 161

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:38:13.958 / 1:38:13.958

Disc Size: 32,485,204,011 bytes / 32,125,773,018 bytes

Feature Size: 28,245,184,512 bytes / 28,306,495,488 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.58 Mbps / 34.15 Mbps

Chapters: 9 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: August 30th, 2016 / July 24th, 2017

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.27:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

 

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit (also score by Cornelius Schwehr, performed by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Frank Strobel)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles (both):

English, None

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by film historian Tim Lucas
2016 Re-release trailer (1:32)
Comparison of B&W / Color Footage (15:38)

 

• Audio Commentary by film historian Tim Lucas

Death Goes to Work - Video Essay by David Cairns (15:27)

• A 44 PAGE BOOKLET featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp and an original review of the film from 1921

DVD included

 

Bitrate:

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: A dizzying blend of German Romanticism, Orientalism, and Expressionism, Fritz Lang's DESTINY (Der müde Tod) marked a bold step for Lang, away from the conventional melodrama and into the kind of high-concept filmmaking that would culminate in such über-stylized works as Die Nibelungen and Metropolis. DESTINY is a visually ambitious, cinematic allegory in which a young woman (Lil Dagover) confronts the personification of Death (Bernhard Goetzke), in an effort to save the life of her fiancé (Walter Janssen). She is transported to a Gothic cathedral, where lives are represented as burning candles of varying length. Death weaves three romantic tragedies, and offers to unite the girl with her lover, if she can prevent the death of the lovers in at least one of the episodes. Thus begin three exotic scenarios of ill-fated love, in which the woman must somehow reverse the course of destiny: Persia, Quattrocento Venice, and a fancifully-rendered ancient China. Restored by Anke Wilkening on behalf of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, this definitive presentation of Destiny preserves the original German intertitles and simulates the historic color tinting and toning of its initial release. Accompanying the film is a newly-composed score by Cornelius Schwehr as a commissioned composition by ZDF / ARTE performed by the 70-member Berlin Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Frank Strobel.

 

 

The Film:

One of the earliest extant Fritz Lang films, Destiny (Der Müde Tod) is structured around the story of a young woman challenging Death for the soul of her husband. This premise allows for Lang to indulge in Expressionist, atmospheric dread and epic fantasy, creating an interesting contrast in its parallel stories of star-crossed young lovers whose destinies end tragically in death.

Lang begins this dark tale with an appropriately eerie carriage ride through a stark landscape. The passengers in the coach include a young couple, played by Lil Dagover and Walter Janssen, apparently newly-married, making their way to a town. The whole sequence calls to mind similarly eerie coach rides in films like Murnau’s Nosferatu or Sjostrom’s The Phantom Carriage. En route, the carriage stops to pick up a dark, mysterious stranger (played by Bernhard Goetze), immediately filling the young couple with a sense of dread. Upon their arrival in town, the couple stops at the Golden Unicorn Inn, where the members of the town council also convene on a nightly basis. The story briefly transitions into a flashback, as the council members tell of the mysterious stranger (the same figure we saw earlier in the carriage) who came to the village seeking to lease a piece of property next to the town cemetery, eventually erecting a wall around the property whose only means of passage was a secret gate, known only to the stranger himself.

Excerpt from NotComing located HERE

Lang's first major success was inspired by the Intolerance device of mixing parallel settings and cultures. Death gives a young girl three chances to save her lover's life, in old Baghdad, in 17th century Venice, and in mythical China. The tone ranges from baroque melodrama to eccentric whimsy, and the plotting is full of digressions and asides, but Lang's design sense and use of architectural space gives the film a basic consistency. And the plentiful special effects still look amazingly inventive.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Fritz Lang's Destiny comes to Region 'A' Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. This new 2K restoration of 1921's Destiny (Der müde Tod) is from sources restored by Anke Wilkening on behalf of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung. This 1080P Blu-ray transfer with a max'ed out bitrate simulates the historic color tinting and toning of its initial release. There is no noise or artifacts although contrast may be a bit dampened. As stated “For decades, the movie was only a shadow of its former self, because unfortunately no tinted copies from the 1920s had survived. Therefore, it is a great pleasure to introduce this outstanding movie from the FriedrichWilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung’s archives in our 50th-anniversary year.”. Now, a full 95 years after the film’s original release, Destiny (Der müde Tod) has been restored and the HD transfer captures it better than ever before for home release.

 

This appears to be the exact same 2K transfer as provided by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung - also used by Kino. Tints and marks are precisely the same and the running time is exact to the 1/1000th of second. The MoC title and intertitles may be a shade brighter.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. It sports a newly-composed score by Cornelius Schwehr as a commissioned composition by ZDF / ARTE performed by the 70-member Berlin Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Frank Strobel. It sounds amazing! - dramatic and perfect. There are optional English subtitles offered and they have preserved the original German intertitles (see samples above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Masters of Cinema inch ahead here as their linear PCM is more robust being 2304 kbps / 24-bit - as opposed to 16-bit. It is the same score by Cornelius Schwehr, performed by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Frank Strobel, but sounds a shade more rich and deep to those who ears can detect such. Masters of Cinema also use the original German intertitles with optional English subtitles. But their Blu-ray disc is region 'B'.

 

Extras :

Adding further value we are blessed with another educational and rewarding audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas. He quotes Lang quite often and gives a fabulous overview of the production with background details of cast etc. I appreciated his adept analysis of specific scenes. There is also a 1/4 hour restoration comparison (split screen) and a 2016 re-release trailer.

 

Augmenting Tim Lucas' educational commentary, also available on the Kino (a different one - see below), is a wonderfully informative 1/4 hour video essay by David Cairns entitled Death Goes to Work and a 44 -page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp and an original review of the film from 1921. The dual-format package has a DVD included.

 

NOTE: Tim Lucas states in our FB Group: "I should take this opportunity to point out that my two DESTINY commentaries are different recordings. They worked from the same basic original script, but each includes its own unique reading and sync, and each includes a portion of unique material. It's probably not enough to make anyone but the most ardent collector buy both versions, but it is not accurate to say that Kino and Eureka! share the same commentary. It was done more for technical than content considerations. When I did the Kino recording, it was my first experience using a new microphone, which I was still figuring out. It caused some - shall we say - anomalies in my first attempt. I really wanted to improve on that, this being such an important title, but I didn't want to devalue to original attempt so it has some passages that can be found only there."

 

Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I had never seen Destiny but knew of its reputation. I was so impressed. Brilliant. The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray is easily the definitive way to see this gem in your home theatre. A film to cherish and revisit for the rest of your life. The Lucas commentary garners even further appreciation of Lang's Silent Era masterwork. Absolutely recommended!  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 40% OFF at Amazon.

 

The Masters of Cinema has more value, with the improved audio transfer but mostly the Cairns essay, booklet and second disc DVD. The Kino has a more reasonable price at present but hardcore Lang fans shouldn't be deterred from nabbing the Masters of Cinema package.    

Gary Tooze

August 27th, 2016

July 24th, 2017

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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