Fritz Lang

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Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton Lang
BirthplaceVienna, Austria-Hungary
Film director, film producer

Lang, Fritz

(läng), 1890–1976, German-American film director, b. Vienna. His silent and early sound films, notably the iconic masterpiece Metropolis (1926) with its dystopian vision of the future, are marked by brilliant expressionist technique. The film premiered (1927) in Berlin and shortly thereafter was abridged by about 25 minutes; the missing footage was found in the early 21st cent. and restored in 2010. Lang gained worldwide acclaim with M (1933), a study of a child molester and murderer. After directing 15 films, Lang fled Nazi Germany (1933) to avoid collaborating with the government and settled in the United States. His 20 Hollywood films continued his exploration of criminality and the cruel fate that can overtake the unwary. His notable American works include Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), Hangmen Also Die (1943), The Big Heat (1953), and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956).


See studies by P. Bogdanovich (1967), L. Eisner (1972), R. A. Armour (1978), F. W. Ott (1979), S. Jenkins (1981), C. Schnauber (1986), P. McGilligan (1997), and T. Gunning (2000).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lang, Fritz


Born Dec. 5, 1890, in Vienna. German motion-picture director (Federal Republic of Germany).

Lang studied at an engineering school and at the Academy of Arts in Vienna. He began writing screenplays in 1916 and two years later made his directorial debut. He made such crime films as Doctor Mabuse, the Gambler (1922), whose hero was a power-hungry criminal. M (1931; from the German Morder, “murderer”), another crime film, was about human impotence before the irresistible forces of evil. Die Nibelungen (1924) represented Germans as the master race, and Metropolis (1926) contrasted the idea of class peace with capitalist exploitation.

After the establishment of the fascist regime (1933), Lang emigrated to France, where he made Liliom (1934; based on the play by F. Molnár), and then to the USA. Lang’s most important films there were Fury (1936), a study of lynch law, and the antifascist Hangmen Also Die. He has lived in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1958. His most recent films include Tigress of Bengal (1958) and The Thousand Eyes of Doctor Mabuse (1960).


“Fritz Lang.” In Kolodiazhnaia, V., and I. Trutko, Istoriia zarubezhnogo kino, vol. 2. Moscow, 1970.
Jensen, P. M. The Cinema of Fritz Lang. New York-London [1969].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.