LONDON — The 66th Berlin Intl. Film Festival is to present the world premiere of the digitally restored version of Fritz Lang’s “Der müde Tod” (Destiny) as part of its Berlinale Classics program.
The silent film, which will screen on Feb. 12 at Friedrichstadt-Palast, has been restored by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Wiesbaden, Germany. The restoration was curated and carried out by art restorer Anke Wilkening. The film was released in 1921 — but not in black and white. Using film tinting and toning, the film hit movie theaters in color. The restorers have re-created those tints.
The premiere of the digitized version will also be a music premiere: Freiburg-based composer Cornelius Schwehr was commissioned by broadcasters ZDF and ARTE to create a new score for “Destiny” that is “commensurate with the film classic’s diversity of style,” the festival said.
“Just as the film itself tells a ‘folk song in six verses’ using technological tricks of modern cinema, composer Cornelius Schwehr combines music styles from Romanticism with the analytical style of contemporary music. His composition grants the images space, endowing them with the necessary ambiguity,” the festival said.
The 70-member Berlin Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, with conductor Frank Strobel at the podium, will accompany the premiere with this new score.
“Fritz Lang is one of the greatest German directors, and I’m especially pleased that our audiences will have the opportunity to discover his first masterpiece ‘Der müde Tod’ (Destiny) in new digital brilliance — and with an equally brilliant musical accompaniment,” commented Rainer Rother, director of the Retrospective program and artistic director of Deutsche Kinemathek.
The restoration was made possible with the support of Bertelsmann and with funds from the digitization initiative of Germany’s Commissioner for Culture and the Media, as well as backing from the Freunde und Förderer des deutschen Filmerbes e.V. (Friends and Associates of German Film Heritage).