Silent drama ‘Destiny’ screens at Wilton Theatre on Sunday

“Destiny,” a 1921 expressionist silent film drama by German director Fritz Lang, will be screened at the Town Hall Theatre on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

The film will be shown with live music accompaniment provided by Jeff Rapsis, a N.H.-based musician who specializes in creating silent film scores.

“Destiny” was filmed in Germany by pioneering director Fritz Lang, who would go on to create the landmark futuristic feature “Metropolis” in 1927. In the Expressionistic framed story, in which human lives are each represented by a candle, Death grants a woman three chances to save her lover, if love can triumph over death. The three stories within the story each occur in a setting that is nominally historic, but really in the realm of fantasy: an adventure tale with a Persian setting out of the Arabian Nights, a Renaissance Venetian romance, and a comic story set in China.

The film’s plot is very simple. Death arrives at a small village and abducts a young man. His distraught lover attempts suicide after reading in the Bible that “Love is as strong as death” and so meets Death, who informs her that her time has not yet come. She, having misread the biblical quote, states that we have been taught that ‘Love is stronger than death’, and Death, weary of mortality, agrees to free her sweetheart if she can save the life of one of three men who are about to die.

The visual design and fantasy world of “Destiny” helped make the film Lang’s first international success. It influenced other filmmakers, including a young Alfred Hitchcock, who singled out Lang’s film as making a special impression on him at the time of its release.

American filmmaker and silent era megastar Douglas Fairbanks was so impressed by “Destiny” that he bought the U.S. rights to the film, and then held it back from release so he could copy its effects for his 1924 movie, “The Thief of Bagdad.”

The film is the latest in the theater’s monthly series of great films from the silent era. They’re presented as they were intended to be shown: in restored prints, on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.

The show is free and open to the public. A $5 donation is suggested to help defray expenses.

For more information, call 654-3456 or visit www.wiltontownhalltheatre.com.

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