Destiny (1921)


The movie Destiny (1921), also known as Der müde Tod, is a silent German Expressionist fantasy romance film directed by Fritz Lang and inspired by the Indian folktale of Savitri. The film follows a woman desperate to reunite with her dead lover. It also follows three other dark romances set in different settings. [1]

In Destiny (1921), the first tale titled “A Moment and A Location” a young couple deeply in love are journeying in a carriage along a rural path when they offer a lift to a wayfarer. Unbeknownst to them, this stranger is the embodiment of Death.

Upon reaching the town, Death pays a visit to the town hall, where he acquires a small plot of land adjacent to the local graveyard. He then constructs an enigmatic, towering wall around this property. Later, at the town’s local inn, the young couple encounters Death once again. As the young woman is momentarily distracted, her beloved vanishes. Overwhelmed with sorrow, she weeps in front of the mysterious wall, where she witnesses a procession of specters passing by her and disappearing through the wall. Among these apparitions is her beloved; despite her pleas, he too crosses the wall, entering Death’s domain.

Undeterred, the young woman confronts Death, pleading with him to reunite her with her beloved. He escorts her to a vast, dimly lit chamber filled with numerous tall candles, each at varying stages of burning. The young woman demands an explanation for her lover’s disappearance, to which Death responds that he was merely executing divine will, and that it was her lover’s destined time to depart. She inquires if there’s any possibility of reclaiming her love, arguing that love holds greater power than Death. Death informs her that each candle in the room symbolizes a human life, and currently, three candles are flickering, signifying three lives teetering on the edge. Death makes a solemn promise to the young woman that if she can save one of these lives through the power of love, he will restore her lover to life.


  • Lil Dagover as the female half of the Loving Couple, as well as Zobeide, Monna Fiametta, and Tiao Tsien
  • Walter Janssen as the male half of the Loving Couple, as well as the Frank, Gianfrancesco, and Liang
  • Bernhard Goetzke as Death, El Mott, and the Emperor’s archer
  • Hans Sternberg as the mayor
  • Karl Rückert as the Reverend
  • Max Adalbert as the Notary


Destiny (1921) was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite film. [2]


“It’s also clear that the intention of Destiny, apart from its function as moral fable, was to be a piece of entertainment, and it succeeds wonderfully. The film is filled with dazzling special effects, many of them groundbreaking for the time, and while the main narrative is direct and clear, the three stories combine exotic locations with any excuse for a bit of magic.” [3]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] IMDb

[3] Senses of Cinema

Last updated byCody Meirick on November 26, 2023