(1921)4Bruce EderFritz Lang may have immersed himself in German culture with his Siegfried and Kriemhilde's Revenge, but he was never more Germanic anywhere than he was with Destiny. Inspired by a childhood dream, this grim yet entertaining story about life-and-death, and the struggle to overcome the latter, never quite escapes its origins, in terms of a somber tone and caste to its plot and characters -- indeed, it is as self-consciously German as Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (with which it has much in common) is self-consciously Swedish. It's easy to understand how other filmmakers, most especially Douglas Fairbanks Sr. as a producer (on The Thief of Bagdad), would have lifted much of Destiny's form and images, but little of its substance. The movie still holds up, but it is a little tougher to absorb than, say, Lang's Nibelungen films, lacking a conventional heroic presence or story-arc for audiences to grab onto. Indeed, in many ways, the work it most closely resembles thematically is Harold S. Buquet's On Borrowed Time (1939), which has a somewhat similar resolution.