Destiny (1921 film)

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DVD cover
Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Thea von Harbou
Fritz Lang
Starring Lil Dagover
Walter Janssen
Bernhard Goetzke
Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Hans Sternberg
Erich Pabst
Max Adalbert
Georg John
Cinematography Bruno Mondi
Erich Nitzschmann
Herrmann Saalfrank
Bruno Timm
Fritz Arno Wagner
Distributed by Decla-Bioscop
Release dates
  • 6 October 1921 (1921-10-06)
Running time
105 minutes
Country Weimar Republic
Language Silent film
German intertitles

Destiny (German: Der müde Tod, "Weary Death"; originally released in the US as Behind the Wall) is a 1921 silent film directed in Germany by Fritz Lang. The film, rich in special effects, is structured as a frame tale with three stories within the story.


In the Expressionistic frame story, in which human lives are each represented by a candle, Death grants a woman three chances to save her lover, if love can triumph over death. The three stories within the story each occur in a setting that is nominally historic, but really in the realm of fantasy: an adventure tale with a Persian setting out of the Arabian Nights, a Renaissance Venetian romance, and a largely comic story set in China.


In Germany, the film was poorly received at first, with critics complaining that it was not 'German' enough, but the film was much more successful overseas.[1] Douglas Fairbanks purchased the American rights, to delay its general American release while he copied the effects of the Persian segment for his 1924 The Thief of Baghdad. [1]


The film was highly influential, most notably in helping persuade Alfred Hitchcock and Luis Buñuel of the promise of the medium.[1]


  1. ^ a b Hardy 1995, p. 29.


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