Director: Fritz Lang
Year Released: 1921
A lovesick woman loses the love of her life to Death (Bernhard Goetzke) so she tries to bargain with him to get her lover back - Death offers her a wager by transporting her to three different time periods (the Middle East, Italy and China) and asks her to 'save' him in each scenario (she fails). While structurally inventive (if stereotypical in its depiction of those classic locales) this is a bit undernourished (it's obvious she won't be able to cheat death ... and her attempts to cheat death only lead to more suffering, which seems self-defeating) and, of course, fatalistic: the only way for the woman to truly get her dead lover back is by succumbing to death herself, rendering the entire movie an inevitable passage to non-existence (with a feeble hope for a grand spiritual hereafter). The influence of this one is still tremendous (as with so many of Lang's early works) and his stylistic flourishes (a human cactus?) and eye for composition are ever so impressive.