After M, Nothing
In 1954, Thea von Harbou, a woman who for over a decade was one of Germany's most important artists, died quietly and nearly unknown in Berlin. As a prodigy of aristocratic means, Harbou began writing professionally when she was a child, and then turned to the stage. In 1922, at the age of 34, she met the up-and-coming director Fritz Lang and fell in love (even though both of them were married at the time). After she left her husband and Lang's wife committed suicide, the two married and began one of the most celebrated relationships in film history. For the next ten years, the husband and wife team collaborated as director and writer respectively on 10 films, including Metropolis and M. By 1930, their marriage, however, was over in all but name. Both had lovers and were moving intellectually and politically apart. Von Harbou eventually befriended the Nazis, and by 1933 they were divorced with Lang fleeing the country and von Harbou going on to lead the association of German Screenwriters. But without Lang, von Harbou never gained the popularity of her former self. After the war, she was shunned by the German cultural elite, even assigned to carrying bricks for the Allied forces — a punishment that Lang supposedly laughed at when he was told. Others claimed that he never got over the loss (and what he felt as betrayal) of von Harbou. He had no comment at her death.