Die Nibelungen (1924)

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donnie
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Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by donnie » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:49 pm

A few years ago I wrote this review of this two part epic on another website:

Part I - Siegfried

In this first film of the epic, director Fritz Lang tells the story of the ancient Germanic epic the Nibelungenlied quite well. I thought it was a very effective film that got better as it went along. The sets and costumes were very effective at giving a feel of a faraway mystical place and time.

The acting impressed me as excellent, particularly Paul Richter as Siegfried. Theodor Loos is very effective as King Gunther, a man torn by the horns of a dilemma. Hanna Ralph makes a mysterious and intense Brunhild. At first I wasn't sure about Margarete Schön as Kriemhild, but she really came into her own near the end. WARNING--SPOILER AHEAD The relationship between Siegfried and Kriemhild was very touching and made the death of Siegfried heartrending. Schön's restraint following the death of Siegfried is very effective as well.

Earlier on the film, I thought the dragon slaying scene was the creakiest part of the film, but was not that bad for a 1924 special effect. On the other hand, the scene where Alberich and his dwarves turn to stone is very effective. The unique animation of Kriemhild's dream in which the falcon is killed by two eagles is another interesting touch.

The pacing of the story was very deliberate but effective and appropriate to the story nonetheless. The edition of the film I saw uses the original full orchestral score, which is magnificent.

________________________________________________________________

Part II - Kriemhild's Revenge

The slow and stately pacing continues in this part, but is quite effective in giving the film a larger-than-life epic grandeur. Despite the pacing, the whole story seems to move by pretty quickly and feels much shorter than its actual length of two and a half hours. Like the first part of Die Nibelungen, this is divided into chapters or Cantos which makes it easy to watch in parts, if you don't want to take the whole thing in one sitting. The increasing violence toward the end of the film is breathtaking but leads to an immensely powerful and tragic climax.

One caveat: if you don't know the story of the Nibelungenlied, (I knew the basic outline, but was shady on the details) there are a couple of things that might be unclear, plotwise. WARNING: SPOILER Example: At the end after Kriemhild strikes down Hagen with the sword, and subsequently collapses, it isn't obvious that she has just been stabbed to death from behind!

The depiction of the Huns is quite interesting - I don't know how historically accurate the costumes and behavior would be. But the thing that really stands out is Margarete Schön's performance as Kriemhild. It is amazing to see what this actress is able to do to advance the storyline merely with her eyes! I believe the success of this second part depends in large part on the choice of Schön and the intensity she is able to bring to this part.

All in all, quite a long film, but definitely repays the time spent watching.

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Kitty
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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by Kitty » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:21 pm

Great review! I know absolutely nothing about this one. The talk about the length of the film reminded me of another film called La Roue. This one is French, from 1923. It's 4 and a half hours long. I loved it so much.
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donnie
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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by donnie » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:09 am

Kitty wrote:
Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:21 pm
Great review! I know absolutely nothing about this one. The talk about the length of the film reminded me of another film called La Roue. This one is French, from 1923. It's 4 and a half hours long. I loved it so much.
It's surprising that Die Nibelungen is so little known, considering the length and the stature of the director. I had never heard of it before I watched it, and have heard little of it since. I'd like to know more about La Roue.

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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by Mrs. Danvers » Thu Jun 08, 2017 11:45 am

Oh Donnie first off I'm a Fritz Lang fangirl and this topic makes me so happy! I love the saga and have watched the entire thing in one sitting, two different times. I liked the dragon slaying scene and thought for the day it was quite good. I liked your reviews and it's nice to find another fan of the film(s).

another Fritz Lang film to check out is his only film made in France, Liliom 1934.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liliom_(1934_film)
Liliom is a 1934 French fantasy film directed by Fritz Lang based on the Hungarian stage play of the same name by Ferenc Molnár. The film stars Charles Boyer as Liliom, a carousel barker who is fired from his job after defending the chambermaid Julie (Madeleine Ozeray) from the jealousy of Mme. Muscat, the carousel owner who is infatuated with Liliom. He moves in with Julie and they begin an affair. When Liliom discovers he's about to become a father, he finds he needs money and participates in a robbery which goes awry. Rather than allow himself to be arrested, Liliom kills himself and his soul is transported to a waiting room of Heaven. A heavenly commissioner determines that Liliom will not be admitted into Heaven, only Purgatory, until he returns to earth to do one good deed.

Liliom was one of the two first French productions by producer Erich Pommer for Fox-Europa and director Fritz Lang's only French film. On the film's release it was protested by the French Catholic clergy and was generally not well received by French film critics or playwright Ferenc Molnár. Despite the reception, the 1934 Liliom was one of Lang's favorites out of all his films.
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donnie
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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by donnie » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:59 pm

I'll certainly have to check Liliom out. Thanks, Mrs. D!

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Mrs. Danvers
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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by Mrs. Danvers » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:03 am

I hope you like it Donnie.

How about Metropolis ? I credit this one film as my gateway drug to being a silent movie buff. Before that it was the Keystone Kops, Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton, thanks to our local TV Kiddie show hosts.
When my people come to colonize this planet, your name will be on the protected rolls, and you will come to no harm.
Beldar Conehead

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dachshundonstilts
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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by dachshundonstilts » Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:46 am

donnie wrote:
Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:49 pm
A few years ago I wrote this review of this two part epic on another website:

Part I - Siegfried

In this first film of the epic, director Fritz Lang tells the story of the ancient Germanic epic the Nibelungenlied quite well. I thought it was a very effective film that got better as it went along. The sets and costumes were very effective at giving a feel of a faraway mystical place and time.

The acting impressed me as excellent, particularly Paul Richter as Siegfried. Theodor Loos is very effective as King Gunther, a man torn by the horns of a dilemma. Hanna Ralph makes a mysterious and intense Brunhild. At first I wasn't sure about Margarete Schön as Kriemhild, but she really came into her own near the end. WARNING--SPOILER AHEAD The relationship between Siegfried and Kriemhild was very touching and made the death of Siegfried heartrending. Schön's restraint following the death of Siegfried is very effective as well.

Earlier on the film, I thought the dragon slaying scene was the creakiest part of the film, but was not that bad for a 1924 special effect. On the other hand, the scene where Alberich and his dwarves turn to stone is very effective. The unique animation of Kriemhild's dream in which the falcon is killed by two eagles is another interesting touch.

The pacing of the story was very deliberate but effective and appropriate to the story nonetheless. The edition of the film I saw uses the original full orchestral score, which is magnificent.

________________________________________________________________

Part II - Kriemhild's Revenge

The slow and stately pacing continues in this part, but is quite effective in giving the film a larger-than-life epic grandeur. Despite the pacing, the whole story seems to move by pretty quickly and feels much shorter than its actual length of two and a half hours. Like the first part of Die Nibelungen, this is divided into chapters or Cantos which makes it easy to watch in parts, if you don't want to take the whole thing in one sitting. The increasing violence toward the end of the film is breathtaking but leads to an immensely powerful and tragic climax.

One caveat: if you don't know the story of the Nibelungenlied, (I knew the basic outline, but was shady on the details) there are a couple of things that might be unclear, plotwise. WARNING: SPOILER Example: At the end after Kriemhild strikes down Hagen with the sword, and subsequently collapses, it isn't obvious that she has just been stabbed to death from behind!

The depiction of the Huns is quite interesting - I don't know how historically accurate the costumes and behavior would be. But the thing that really stands out is Margarete Schön's performance as Kriemhild. It is amazing to see what this actress is able to do to advance the storyline merely with her eyes! I believe the success of this second part depends in large part on the choice of Schön and the intensity she is able to bring to this part.

All in all, quite a long film, but definitely repays the time spent watching.
Donnie, can you point me to the edition you watched? Is it on DVD?
"I feel so low, old chap, that I could get on stilts and walk under a dachshund." - Monty, "It" (1927)

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donnie
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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by donnie » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:56 pm

Dachshund, it's been quite awhile back that I watched it, and I can't remember exactly how I got hold of it—I don't own a copy—but I do remember it was on dvd. I poked around on YouTube, and I'm almost certain this is the edition I saw, put out by Transit Film (magnificent score!).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_6ho5ACVjY

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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by dachshundonstilts » Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:20 pm

Thanks!
"I feel so low, old chap, that I could get on stilts and walk under a dachshund." - Monty, "It" (1927)

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Mrs. Danvers
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Re: Die Nibelungen (1924)

Post by Mrs. Danvers » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:11 am

I got it at my local library, they are a treasure trove of silent and foreign films.
When my people come to colonize this planet, your name will be on the protected rolls, and you will come to no harm.
Beldar Conehead

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