Motion Picture Director. After completing high school in Vienna, Austria,. he briefly attended a technical school and then began training to be a painter. However, that career path too was short-lived, as he put his painting studies on hold to travel around Europe, Asia, and North Africa in the early Teens. When World War I broke out, he returned to Vienna and enlisted in the Army in January of 1915. In June of 1916, he was seriously injured and began writing film scenarios during the time he was recovering. In 1918 he was sent home with shell-shock. Following this he acted in the theatre for a time before turning to writing film scenarios for the Decla company in Berlin. He also began working as a director during this time, for UFA Studios and Nero-Film. After losing his first wife, Lisa Rosenthal, to suicide, in 1922 he married for the second time, to Thea von Harbou, whom he had been involved with for the past two years. This was her second marriage as well. She was his co-writer on the scripts for many of his most famous films, such as 'Metropolis' (1927), 'M' (1930), 'Die Niebelungen' (1924), and 'Dr. Mabuse der Spieler' (1922). These films, and many others Lang directed, were celebrated examples of the German Expressionist school of film in vogue at the time. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the new regime refused to allow his latest film, 'Das Testament der Dr. Mabuse,' to be shown. A famous story has sprung up from this event, in which Josef Goebbels apologized for banning his film and then offered him a position as production supervisor at the UFA Studios. Lang thought it might be a trap and told him (truthfully) that his mother's parents were Jewish, to which Goebbels snapped back, "We'll decide who's Jewish!" He told him he would need some time to think this offer over, but that very same evening got on a train going to Paris, leaving most of his possessions and money behind, along with his wife. However, evidence shows that Lang actually left Germany with most of his money, and even made several trips back later that year. Furthermore, none of Goebbels's writings mention anything about this meeting other than the fact that they discussed the fact that 'Das Testament der Dr. Mabuse' had been banned. No evidence has surfaced indicating that he was considering offering Lang any position. However, regardless of how much of this is an urban legend and how much is true, it is a fact that Lang did leave Germany and possibly would have run into trouble with the regime because of his Jewish ancestry. He and von Harbou divorced later that year, and she went on to make Nazi propaganda films. In 1934 he left Paris for Hollywood, where he remained for the next twenty-one years. Though he had a reputation as being a very difficult director, with whom many actors would outright refuse to work, he continued to find success in his chosen career field. Many of his American films were crime melodramas and film noir, a change of pace from his earlier Expressionist and science fiction films. He also directed a number of Westerns during this period. Lang eventually got tired of the Hollywood system and went back to Germany, using stories and characters he had created in the earlier days of his career. In 1964 he served as president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, even though he was nearly blind by then. In his retirement years, he once again came to live in the United States. He died at the age of eighty-five.
Bio by: Carrie-Anne