Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924)

Director: Fritz Lang
Starring: Paul Richter, Margarete Schon, Hanna Ralph, Hans Adalbert Schlettow, Bernhard Goetzke, Theodor Loos, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Rudolf Rittner, Gertrud Arnold, Hans Carl Mueller, Erwin Biswanger, Hardy von Francois, Georg John, Frida Richard, Yuri Yurovsky, Iris Roberts

Master swordsman Siegfried (Richter) overhears a tale involving Kriemhild (Schon), the beautiful princess of Burgundy, and decides to win her hand in marriage. Mime (John), a fellow villager jealous of Siegfried's skills, sends him on a shortcut to the Kingdom where Siegfried must encounter the magical creatures that may lead him to his death.

Made as a two-part film - the second titled Kriemhild's Revenge - this is more a wondrous delve into a photographer and historians delight, thanks to the incredible cinematography (Carl Hoffman and Gunther Rittau) and art direction (Otto Hunte - and Karl Vollbrecht who designed the dragon) from frequent Lang collaborators and, of course, Lang himself's amazing vision. Therefor, it's hard to find much to like about it in terms of a film.

Again, while the actors do an incredible job, it's more the vision and the emotions we can read that really succeed, which, I guess, in a silent film is all you really need. Richter in particular is wonderful and Schlettow has commanding presence as Hagen. Character actor John appears as Mime and Alberich the dwarf; he also appeared in many of Lang's films including Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, Metropolis and M as did many of the other actors.


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