Fritz Lang is one of the greatest directors in the history of film. Even though many people did not appreciate him during his active years, which allegedly hurt him on a personal level, he will forever be remembered for some of the most brilliant films in our history.
Lang was responsible for renowned features such as ‘Metropolis’ and ‘M’; it is said that these films, amongst his other work, were part of the reason for the directors legendary meeting with Joseph Goebbels.
As we all know, Goebbels, minister of propaganda, was probably one of the biggest reasons that the Nazi party found success, albeit brief. Goebbels was known for his ill-feeling towards the Jewish community and famously made comments that sympathised with the use of guns to gain power. He was perhaps better known for his mindset that it was “more gratifying to win the heart of a people and keep it”. This lead Goebbels to, allegedly, set about reeling in one of the greatest directors in the history of filmmaking.
In 1933, Goebbels allegedly invited Lang to his office in the hope of getting the director to climb aboard his propaganda train. Metropolis was one of Goebbels favourite films but his distaste of a particular Dr. Mabuse film was well-known. Goebbels had gone out of his way to ban ‘The Testament of Dr. Mabuse’, perhaps for its perception of the public not having any trust in their leaders. Lang arrived at Goebbels’ office with the idea that he may be able to convince the minister to remove the ban.
Lang did not get the chance to discuss this however. Instead, the director claims, he was railroaded in to Signing up to make the Nazi’s their national socialist film at the request of Hitler. Lang accepted, feeling that he had no other choice. He returned to his home where he had his servant pack his bags for a last minute ‘trip to Paris’. He left that day, and did not return until the tail end of the 1950’s. For whatever reason, Lang, an apparent “fierce nationalist”, chose not to be a part of the Nazi’s plans and fled to continue his work elsewhere.
Fritz Lang made the right choice in his decision to bail on the Nazi party and some of his later work is definitely testament to that. Without his reluctance to be a part of the system, we would not have films like “Fury” in our collection today. It is not all cut and dry though; some doubt that this legendary meeting ever took place and insist that it was just Lang’s, overly-dramatic, penchant for storytelling. The main line of argument being that none of this was ever recorded in Joseph Goebbels insanely accurate diary.
Whether you believe the story or not, One thing is for sure. Lang definitely left Germany in 1933 and chose not to be involved with the nazi party’s plans. A decision that was for the better when speaking of his career in later years.