Fritz’s ripples

Sylvia Sydney and Henry Fonda in YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE and Debra Paget and Paul Hubschmid in THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR, both directed by Fritz Lang, twenty-two years and a continent apart. Ripples in a pond are also a signature image in SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR.

Lang liked to jokingly refer to his Indian epic as Indienschnulzen — India-tearjerker, and also referred to the two parts as DER TIGER VON DEXTROPUR — the corn-sugar tiger and DAS KINDISCHE GRABMAL — the Childish Tomb. But the films serve as summations of his imagery, as seen above.

5 Responses to “Fritz’s ripples”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

  2. I was going to say that he likes any natural phenomenon that suggests the abstraction of geometry. But that’s not quite the feeling of the examples you provide. It feels more as if he likes the reflexivity of starting with a clean image and then reminding us that the image isn’t so simple.

  3. Andreas Flohr Says:

    In my opinion , the most beautiful and poetic scene including ripples is the suicide by drowning in Mizoguchis „Sanjo the Bailiff“. The head sinks under the water and what is left – ripples. See also Bresson‘s „Mouchette“ : the suicide by drowning is also followed by a (recognizable) loop of ripples.

  4. David Ehrenstein Says:

    A notion Rivette makes clear in his seminal critique The Hand

  5. The Bresson always bothers me because it looks like he just threw a rock in the water. Unlike him: he’s normally very conscious of the specific weight and heft of objects. But I suppose he didn’t feel he could drown his young actor, and I support him in that. Similarly, I like how, in Moonrise, Frank Borzage needed a crying child at the beginning, but he used a non-crying one and dubbed on the sound, because he was too nice to make a child cry for real.

    The circular ripples in Secret Beyond certainly fulfill Lang’s enthusiasm for Platonic forms, but yes, the examples above involve his mistrust of the image: and his next film after The Indian Tomb would be the apotheosis of his wandering images…

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