Germany | 145 min.
black & white
Fritz Lang, 1928
Newly restored to its original length, Fritz Lang’s penultimate silent film, Spione [Spies], is a flawlessly constructed labyrinthine spy thriller. Hugely influential, Lang’s famous passion for meticulous detail combines with masterful storytelling and editing skills to form a relentless story of intrigue, espionage, and blackmail.
An international spy ring, headed by Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), uses technology, threats, and murder to obtain government secrets. As master spy, president of a bank, and music hall clown, Haghi leads several lives using instruments of modern technology to spearhead a mad rush for secrets — secrets that assert his power over others.
Setting in stone for the first time many elements of the modern spy thriller, Spione remains remarkably fresh and captivating over 75 years since its first release. Lang carefully reveals the elaborate methods of the spies as they move through his unknown city, no doubt creating a mirror of troubled Weimar Germany. Made by Lang’s own production company and, like M and Metropolis, written by Lang with his wife Thea von Harbou, Spione is “the Grandaddy of decades of intrigue epics. In its rigorous austerity it remains the most modern of the bunch.” (Elliott Stein, Village Voice).
by Jonathan Rosenbaum, 2005