Friedrich “Fritz” Christian Anton Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany’s school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the “Master of Darkness” by the British Film Institute. His most famous films are the groundbreaking Metropolis and M, made before he moved to the United States, his iconic contribution to the film noir genre.
Lang was born in Vienna as the second son of Anton Lang, an architect and construction company manager, and his wife Pauline “Paula” Lang née Schlesinger. Fritz Lang himself was baptized on 28 December 1890 at the Schottenkirche in Vienna.
Lang’s parents were of Moravian descent and practicing Roman Catholics, his mother having been born Jewish and converted to Catholicism when Fritz was ten. His mother took this conversion seriously and was dedicated to raising Fritz as a Catholic. Lang never had an interest in his Jewish heritage and identified himself as Catholic. Although he was not a particularly devout Catholic, he “regularly used Catholic images and themes in his films”.
After finishing school, Lang briefly attended the Technical University of Vienna, where he studied civil engineering and eventually switched to art. In 1910 he left Vienna to see the world, traveling throughout Europe and Africa and later Asia and the Pacific area. In 1913, he studied painting in Paris, France.