The Thinking Machine 11

Framing Fritz’s Apartment

Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López reflect on the art of filmmaking in monthly video essays.

In Ulli Lommel’s The Tenderness of Wolves (1973) – based the same real-life story as Fritz Lang’s M – the narrow, slanted apartment where the protagonist lures and kills his victims plays a crucial role. Despite the limited possibilities that the space offers, Lommel finds a great array of inventive solutions to portray it. The framing of Fritz’s apartment is built on a double principle of repetition and variation; confinement and claustrophobia reign. By reworking footage from eleven different scenes, our audiovisual essay traces various parameters: elaborate camera movements; precise reframings; extended shot lengths; actions and displacements of bodies; conscious or accidental interactions between actors and props; fixtures that either reveal or block and divide the space; concentration on different zones of the apartment; staging based on height or depth.