DVD and Blu-ray (via Kino Lorber), now recognized as the resource and foundation utilized by other filmmakers, such as Alfred Hitchcock and Luis Buñuel.
Personally, it's an achievement that I've always found utterly fascinating and compulsively watchable - but almost impossible to see in recent years.
"Der Müde Tod," which translates, tellingly, as "The Tired Death," was released as "Destiny" when it premiered in the United States in 1924 - on July 6th in New York - and is largely known by that title.
"Destiny" is the kind of film that, on paper, can sound positively purple. Initially a dream-like tale of two lovers, the film is dimmed when their future together is threatened by Death (Bernhard Goetzke) who materializes to snatch the nameless Young Man (Walter Janssen).
The Young Woman (Lil Dagover) contemplates suicide when Death challenges her with a deal that she can hardly refuse: There's a boy and there are also these three candles, each representing a human life.
As each candle is extinguished, someone dies. But if one candle stays lighted, the boy will be spared and survive.
This main storyline gives way to three subplots - set in ancient Persia, Renaissance Venice and China - that are both wildly methaphorical and metaphysical as the woman frantically searches for someone to give up their life once the boy's is spared. The elderly, who are already too uncomfortably close to death, run from her. Of course they do.
There is some alert, unexpected humor in this death-drenched fable as the heroine confronts some carefully-designed stumbling blocks - until she and her lover are reunited in a way that can be described only as supremely Lang-ian. Relax. No spoiler here.
I've always been struck by the methodical pace and overriding sense of calm of this very dark, moody fairy tale. Lang kept things in check here, via both his creative direction of the material and the performances of his game cast.
The result is an impressively muted work, in which a master filmmaker brilliantly deconstructs the notion of "romantic cinema."