When a wrongly accused prisoner barely survives a lynch mob attack and is presumed dead, he vindictively decides to fake his death and frame the mob for his supposed murder.
“The only film I know to which I have wanted to attach the epithet of ‘great’. (...) Any other film this year is likely to be dwarfed by Herr Lang’s extraordinary achievement: no other director has got so completely the measure of his medium, is so consistently awake to the counterpoint of sound and image.”
“When I make a picture of today – especially if it is what’s usually called a crime picture – I always tell my cameraman, ‘I don’t want fancy photography – nothing ‘artistic’ – I want newsreel photography.’ Because I think every serious picture that depicts people today should be a kind of documentary of its time. Only then, in my opinion, do you get a quality of truth into a picture. In this way, Fury is a documentary.”
Fritz Lang in conversation with Peter Bogdanovich2
“Lang is not interested in a reproduction of a reality one has already seen. He wants to reveal, with his instrument, the real power of forms.”
“There is a revealing story told... by the German director Fritz Lang. When he made his first Hollywood film, Fury, in 1935, he knew about thirty words of English. (This did not prevent him from working on the script.) The brilliant picture that emerged was considered too controversial and disturbing by a distinguished front-office executive. Irately he summoned Lang to his office and accused him of having changed the script. Lang replied that his lack of English made this impossible; comparing his script with the finished film, he showed that not a line of dialogue nor a situation had been changed. All the same, the executive complained, the film was entirely different from the script.”
“The smallest detail, for example the hero’s taste for peanuts, which at first glance seems to be a simple touch of familiar realism, soon turns out to be of a primordial importance to the rest of the story. The same goes for the framing, the choice of setting, which are in line with the tonality of the scenes: a sudden rain announces the hero’s misfortune.”
“Parallel scenes in Lang’s work show that the image, photo ID, and phantom reflection can work to elicit a sense of remorse so powerful that it turns into madness. The photographs of the little girls that Schränker offers to M trigger his verbal outburst; Dr. Baum again recounts what was already visible at the end of Spieler, how Mabuse goes mad watching as the phantoms of his victims appear; Matsumoto commits suicide after being hailed by the phantoms of the three messengers he sent to the grave; Fury’s lynchers break down at the sight of the film that proves their guilt. This, then, is the function of cinema: to transmit the image of the victim back to his executioner so as to drive him in turn mad with terror.”
- 1. Graham Greene, “Fury/The Story of Louis Pasteur,” The Spectator, 3 July 1936, 19.
- 2. Peter Bogdanovich, Who the Devil Made it: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors (New York: Ballantine Books, 1997), 402.
- 3. Frieda Grafe in Enno Patalas, Frieda Grafe & Hans Prinzler, Fritz Lang (Paris: Rivages, 1985), 24-5. Originally published in German (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1976). English translation of the citation by Tom Gunning, who calls this “perhaps the most incisive description of Lang's visual style.”
- 4. Nicholas Ray, “Story into Script,” Sight and Sound, 2 (Autumn 1956), 70–4.
- 5. Luc Moullet, Fritz Lang (Paris: Seghers, 1963/70). English translation by Srikanth Srinivasan.
- 6. Nicole Brenez, “Symptom, Exhibition, Fear Representations of Terror in the German Work of Fritz Lang,” in Joe McElhaney (ed.), A Companion to Fritz Lang (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), 71.