The Film (5/5)
I will start by saying I absolutely love the Blu-ray restorations of German silent films Kino Lorber have been issuing to Blu-ray for years now. Between the works of Murnau and Lang they have released some glorious and beautiful early German cinema on the format, and need to be commended for allowing these stunning works to be seen in the best possible format in the best possible way. Of course, none of this would be possible without contributions from such facilities as Friedich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung who undertook the restoration of Fritz Lang's 1921 film Destiny that Kino have released to Blu-ray stateside this week.
Destiny is a story that unfolds in essentially 4 parts. The film opens in a rural German village shortly after the marriage a young couple. They are followed to an inn, by a man who is essentially Death. Death presents them with an hourglass showing that the man is soon to die. When both Death and the man disappear, the man’s wife begins to search him out. In order to find him, she drinks poison at a cemetery, and enters Death's realm. When there she is offered 3 chances to save her husband during 3 different time periods, in the ancient Middle East, in Renaissance Italy, and in China. When she fails to save him during any of these one of three candles is extinguished. When the last candle is gone, death is made permanent.
A quote on the cover of the Kino Blu-ray release, but mentions repeating by Luis Bunuel is that Destiny "Opened my eyes to the poetic expressiveness of the cinema. When I saw Destiny I suddenly knew that I wanted to make films." So basically, Destiny gave us Bunuel, if nothing else I would recommend legions of film viewers descend on Amazon just because we owe the career of one of cinemas greatest surrealist to this one film. That being said it would be selling this film short in the process.
Destiny is one of the Lang's most gorgeous films from a visual perspective, and remember this is the man who also made Die Niebelungen, and Metropolis within a decade of this film. The film borrows some elements of the then popular German Expressionist movement such as the use of shadows and dark, but there is much more going on here than that. Everything from the sets down to the overall design of the picture is filled with lavish and stunning detail. Between that and the newly restored color tinting for the film we get a truly wonderful, and occasional dreamy and supernatural experience from director Lang.
Kino Lorber working in conjunction with Friedich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung presents Destiny in a simply stunning 1:33:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The intertitles are German, and the tinting was redone from a black and white print to simulate the original look of the film as intended by Lang. Detail is excellent throughout, color in the tinting is solid, and contrast is good considering the material. There is damage, but not as strong as one might expect. The score is an LPCM 2.0 track with a newly composed score by Cornelius Schwehr as the primary track. The score fits the mood of the film of the film, and there are no issues with hearing the track.
Any Tim Lucas commentary is worth listening to as they are usually packed with gluttonous amounts of information about the film and filmmaker and his commentary for Destiny is no different. He manages to keep the discussion engaging and informative throughout with very few dry spots. There is also a restoration demo and a trailer for the new restoration.
A wonderful early film by Fritz Lang, Destiny is given a superb Blu-ray release by Kino Lorber. The Blu-ray looks and sounds incredible, and has limited, but strong extra features. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.