Slant: Fritz Lang

By Clayton Dillard
Slant Magazine

mcgilligan_fritz coverIn 1997, St. Martin's Griffin Press published Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast to widespread critical acclaim. Now, after several years of remaining out of print, the University of Minnesota Press has released a beautiful new paperback edition of the biography which Stanley Kauffmann called a "permanent resource" upon its initial release. Indeed, Patrick McGilligan's nearly 500-page treatment of the elusive, demonstrative German director seemingly spares no detail, chronicling Lang's entire life with a precision that transcends merely ticking off facts in chronological fashion and, more interestingly, revels in the director's off-screen faults just as frequently as he applauds the on-screen brilliance. Such jarring juxtaposition is epitomized by the books epigraph, spoken by Lang himself: "My private life has nothing to do with my films." McGilligan looks to test this claim throughout, detailing the life of a man dedicated to artistic integrity and meticulous detail while working, yet also capable of rampant adultery, giving numerous tongue-lashings to cast and crew, and, even, murder.

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