Leo Lensing, professor of film studies, is the author of a review essay titled “Fritz Lang, man of the eye. On the Edgar Allan Poe of German Cinema,” published in the June 15 issue of the Times Literary Supplement (London). The TLS cover article takes stock of Fritz Lang. Die Biographie (Propyläen Verlag, 2014), the first full-length biography in German of the great Austrian-German filmmaker Fritz Lang (1890-1976), and compares it unfavorably with Fritz Lang. The Nature of the Beast, the standard American life by Patrick McGilligan.
Lang’s reputation, Lensing writes, continues to be linked primarily to two films he made during the Weimar Republic: “the famous blockbuster flop Metropolis (1927)”; and M (1931), “the infamously empathetic profile of a serial killer, which Lang often called his favorite. Metropolis, still often categorized as ‘a flawed masterpiece’ by film scholars, has become even more popular and influential. Every metropolitan dystopia from Blade Runner to Batman Returns owes something to its visionary scenario of a technologically unhinged future.”
Lensing writes that “Grob’s treatment of the monumental making of this ‘urtext of cinematic modernity’ (Thomas Elsaesser) typifies his biography’s modest virtues. Grob’s narrative often veers between compact scenarios and long, thinly fleshed-out lists of people met, films seen, theater performances attended, art exhibitions visited and, especially, women wined and dined. While this enhanced name-dropping with its litany of intellectual, artistic and erotic contacts can be beguiling, the overall effect raises questions of the kind for which a biographer should supply answers.”