Fritz Lang looking down a camera lens with his crew
Stories & Ideas

Fri 18 Feb 2022

More than night: the fatal vision of Fritz Lang

Film Melbourne Cinémathèque Retrospective
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Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society

Notes for the 4–18 May 2022 Melbourne Cinémathèque program.

Fritz Lang (1890–1976) was a master of both expressionism and film noir whose career spanned almost 50 years, taking him from the vibrant and highly influential German studio system of the pre-Nazi era to many of the Hollywood majors. Often described as a film director’s director, Lang was a virtuoso of the moving image, a romantic, paranoid fatalist whose body of work has an obsessive consistency and richness of tone rarely matched by other filmmakers. His cinematic world was often populated by criminals, psychopaths, prostitutes, lovers-on-the-run, frustrated artists and maladjusted personalities; a deterministic, geometric cosmos ruled by the inevitable hand of fate. His films provide a forensic, withering lens on modern life. As Tom Gunning has written, “Lang’s camera seeks to abstract the deep structures of the world from its surfaces, like an x-ray stripping away the flesh of the world to reveal its hollow core”.

Appearing almost 25 years after the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s first highly successful Lang season, this program seeks to further explore the varied treasures of the director’s moody, fatalistic oeuvre, including two of his most important German works: the seminal M, the granddaddy of all serial killer films and an extraordinary portrait of society on the edge; and the often-playful Spione, the greatest of Lang’s master-criminal thrillers. These two films represent Lang’s absolute mastery over genre, film form, style and suspense. His unjustly undervalued American work is represented by four key film noirs and thrillers that highlight Lang’s anti-fascist credentials: the daring “what-if” fantasy of Hitler’s “almost” assassination in Man Hunt; the extraordinarily nimble and disturbingly dreamlike Graham Greene adaptation Ministry of Fear; and a fascinating portrait of the emerging Atomic Age, Cloak and Dagger. The increasingly elemental, almost abstract final phase of Lang’s career is also represented by his lean, paranoid, newspaper noir, While the City Sleeps.

– Melbourne Cinémathèque


More than night: the fatal vision of Fritz Lang

M (1931) – Wed 4 May, 7pm
While the City Sleeps (1956) – Wed 4 May, 9.10pm
Man Hunt (1941) – Wed 11 May, 7pm
Cloak and Dagger (1946) – Wed 11 May, 8.55pm
Ministry of Fear (1944) – Wed 18 May, 7pm
Spione (1928) – Wed 18 May, 8.40pm

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Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society, Melbourne Cinémathèque screens significant works of international cinema in the medium they were created, the way they would have originally screened.

Melbourne Cinémathèque is self-administered, volunteer-run, not-for-profit and membership-driven. 

Learn more | View the 2022 program | See membership options

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