Sunday, 30 November 2014

On 30.11.14 by KieronMoore in , , , ,    No comments

Even the world’s biggest directors have to scale down once in a while – after making iconic sci-fi epic Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s studio asked if he wouldn’t mind losing a zero or two from the budget sheets next time around, and thus was born Spione (it’s German for ‘Spies’, don’t you know).

When government agent 326 encounters the beautiful Sonja, pursued by the police for a crime she was forced to commit, she convinces him to hide her away, but little does he know she’s one of those eponymous Spione, out to get him. And if 326 is a proto-007, his nemesis and Sonja’s employer is a proto-Blofeld: Haghi, a bank director (boo, hiss) who secretly leads a sinister espionage organisation and plans to steal a vital Japanese treaty in order to bring about war (even more boos and hisses).

If you’ve seen Metropolis, Spione may initially strike you as less visually decadent. There are no sweeping futuristic cityscapes here, no enormous and imaginative sets – don’t expect proto-Blofeld to have a proto-volcano lair – and some of the longer office-set sequences may test a modern viewer’s patience across the two-and-a-half-hour running time. But Lang really is a master of imagery, and there are some great action sequences, inventive settings, and some real top-quality moustaches on show.

Spione may not be Fritz Lang’s finest film, but it is a surprisingly exciting thriller, visually rich despite not having Metropolis’ budget, and nicely critical of the wasteful rich in a time of Great Depression – all in all, further proof if ever it was needed that Lang truly was a Master of Cinema.


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