ben d banana wrote:
With all due respect to Schreck and David, and as someone who enjoys Lang, and even as a kid tended to care more about who made a film rather than risking following stars or whatever, I'm all for Lubitsch stating his rather unpopular opinion. He feels he's had a rather bullshit theory shoved down his and everyone's throat for decades and he isn't going to take it anymore. I'd much rather read a heated debate between you folks, on a subject I enjoy, than listen to people whinge over a release schedule that doesn't include every film they've been told to love.
This basically going to be a variation on David's statement, but I have to say it:
Look. We all feel very strongly about film, otherwise we wouldn't be expending the calories typing & typing & typing about them. I have no problem debating anything with anybody anytime. I don't mind having my points dissected. But who wants to exchange ideas with a raging, humorless, brick wall, who doesn't even throw a little humor into such fierceness, who makes you feel like she wants to personally
come & scratch the shit out of you for your appreciation of DIE SPINNE? I want to exchange ideas, now matter how heated, with someone whose replies will be at least somewhat
There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Lang tended to repeat himself over and over again. All the veneers of reality being peeled away to reveal the paranoiac truth behind the reassuring facade, the endlessly repeated wise old man/professor/recluse/druggist, stooped & shuffling aroound cramped, dark & musty quarters & forever solving the obscure clue that confounds the protagonist (the Chinese key in Spiders, the druggist in Destiny, provides the translation to Mia May in The (orignal, Lang-0scripted) Indian Tomb, old Manfeldt in Frau Im Mond, Rotwang in Metropolis, the list can go on & on).
What I think is an utter wheel-spinner, even if I didn't
admire Fantoma's/KirchMedia's restoration disc-- and greatly enjoy the innocent fun and beautiful photography & mise-en-scene (remind's me of the mneticulousness of the Kobayashi of KWAIDAN as well as that of Kubrick in 2001)-- of Langs '59 Indian Tomb, is the proclamation "you wouldn't even be speaking of it if it weren't a Fritz Lang film."
Well, yeah, so what? Even if it were true (which I'm not so sure... I enjoy visual movies a great deal, and all doesn't need to be heart-wrenching super-serious masterpieces like the Passion of Joan of Arc; INd. TOMB '59 might have stuck in my mind as a gorgeous one-shot, even if I knew no other Lang, the same way I swam in the images of Kwaidan, before I'd seen REBELLION & SEPPU) Great directors have their ups & downs-- what's the point of that statement? It was leveled with such a jolt of seeming contempt, as if we were all fools for even picking the discs up in the first place. The statement goes nowhere, though. People have mediocre Hitch, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Lean, Murnau, Dreyer, A. Mann, hell, the list can go on forever. What is the point of calling attention to it? I'm sure Lubitch has heroes-- I'm sure he/she'd love to get his/her hands on Die Puppe, probably has some of the german silent melodramas/costume pitcures Lubitch made, some of which are more pure escapist entertainment than they are head shredding landmarks which blew the parameters of silent film way open. Or ETERNAL LOVE. But why break horns for acquiring them into ones collection & having fun watching them? Some folks are "completists" since many DVD titles are so inexpensive nowadays (single disc Warners, Fox, Universal's, Paramount-- hell I think I paid 11 bucks for that beautiful STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS) one can afford to acquire nearly everything by even the most prolific directors. I know myself that I long to see the forgotten, ho-hum titles just as much as I long to see the masterpieces of certain directors. This is because, though the film in question may be weak, it's instructive to see why, particularly versus his successes: aside from the obvious desire to trace the development of themes & visual ideas, it's interesting to attempt to discern what was it that caused the icon to stumble... was it studio interference? was the interference ex-post-facto "final cut" butchering?... or was it cost cutting or censor-fear or mere mindless overruling one's vision to cater to the perceieved lowesrt common denominator? or was it heavy drinking or sex-prompted blindness on the director's part? a bad script? old age shearing off his edge?
I know myself, and I pointed it out volountarily before Lubitch came barreling in, that there's a bit of Lang that doesn't do much for me personally. No matter who's directing, or when, or with whom-- nostalgia or no-- it's as impossible for me to squeeze enjoyment out of a film which does nothing for me as it is to proclaim an erection with a limp dong.