1924                    Silent fantasy epic

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    cast

  • Paul Richter Siegfried
  • Margarete Schon Kriemhild
  • Theodor Loos King Gunther
  • Hanna Ralph Brunhild


    crew

  • Dir:
  • Scr:



                                                                                                                                             stars

         lang

    [ d i e  n i b e l u n g e n : m o v i e  r e v i e w ]

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    Rated: Unrated

    The Nibelungen Smartphones Page

    Fritz Lang's adaptation of the 13th-century German saga is a superb example of the craftsmanship at the UFA studios. Paul Richter is Siegfried, married to Margarete Schon: together the two journey from Iceland to Burgundy with Hanna Ralph, who is to be the bride of Theodor Loos. Adventures, magical and otherwise, death and revenge all ensue.

    The stylised sets create a mysterious beauty, especially the misty forest (constructed in a Zeppelin hangar) and the romantic castles. There is also a wonderful dragon that the hero slays early in Part I (Siegfried) and a massively staged battle to end Part II (Kriemhild's Revenge). The characters are deliberately one-dimensional as befits the epic mode.


    Background: With this film, we enter the period of those epic films for which Lang is to a large extent remembered today. The Nibelungen films, along with his next project. Metropolis, were directly affected by Pommer and Lang's trip to the States, a trip which taught them to think big. In Siegfried and Kriemhilds Rache Lang creates four separate mythical worlds, all of huge proportions, which range from the geometric architecture of the court of the Burgundians to the teaming, organic primitivism of the realm of King Etzel.

    As seen in Lang's other films of this period, special effects play an important role. What most people pick out here is the sequence in which Siegfried fights the huge fire-breathing dragon Fafnir. Lang had a massive model of the monster built, which was operated by sixteen people, and managed to produce a pretty realistic beast for the time and one which still looks impressive today. The camerawork in the film was groundbreaking, as it generally is in Lang's work, with Hoffmann and Rittau always managing to keep up with the director's vivid imagination. And Lang wasn't unaware of their importance for his films. As Eisner tells us in her programme notes to Die Nibelungen, Lang claims that he was always impressed by the fact that the cameramen would sometimes experiment for whole nights to work out a specific trick. In Die Nibelungen, the superimposing of one image on another is taken to a new level of sophistication, most famously in the sequence where the dwarves that hold up the treasure of the Nibelungen are slowly turned into stone from their feet upwards. Also, lighting is used to great effect. Have a look, for example, at the magnificent sequence where Brunhild waits for the Burgundians and we see the aurora borealis flickering across the screen. This was an innovative effect at the time, which Rittau achieved by shining spotlights onto a moving mirror.



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