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Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache (Kriemhild's Revenge) Reviews

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rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2012
the second half of lang's epic is the yin to siegfried's yang. widow kriemhild has sworn vengeance for siegfried's death, even marrying attila the hun when he pledges to help her. much blood is shed and margarete schoen resembles an ice maiden by gustav klimt. amazing costumes and sets throughout
Byron B

Super Reviewer

December 12, 2007
The epic story continues with much of the same cast and crew. The production values remain lavish in the style of German opera. I was intrigued to see Kriemheld (Margarete Schön), Siegfried's widowed wife, step to the front of the tale. Unfortunately, she does not get to show much strength or expression in seeking revenge and there is simply less magic in this sequel. Kriemheld's own family sides with Hagen, so she travels to the land of the Huns in the East and forms a marriage of allegiance with King Etzel, translated as Attila. Fritz Lang regular, Rudolf Klein-Rogge appears in ridiculously offensive makeup as Attila the Hun. A large portion of the film consists of organized armies, led by Gunther and Hagen, and raiding mobs of Huns, doing Kriemheld's bidding, in chaotic battle. It's a tragic epic with a lot of death, in the end.
Eric B

Super Reviewer

March 17, 2008
Fritz Lang's adaptation of the epic "Die Nibelungen" poem is so massive that it's intimidating to even review it. It's almost five hours long, spanning two separate films, and its scope makes even "Intolerance" look unambitious. The sets are consistently dazzling, and the cast is enormous. If the first half is "The Lord of the Rings," then the second half is Kurosawa's "Ran." The scale is that big.

First, I must emphasize a misconception which I myself had: The film is not based on Richard Wagner's famed opera cycle, nor does it contain any of Wagner's music. It only shares the same source material. The gist of the tale: Heroic Siegfried is raised as a swordsmith. He leaves home to stalk and kill a notorious dragon, and learns that bathing in the dragon's blood will make him invincible. But alas, a leaf quietly falls on his shoulder amidst the shower, leaving him with one vulnerable spot. Shortly thereafter, Siegfried is ambushed in the woods by Alberich, the king of the dwarves. He bests Alberich, and Alberich promises his realm's vast treasure in exchange for his life. Siegfried takes the bounty, and becomes a king of multiple lands. Soon he joins forces with another king, Gunther, who recruits him to use shape-shifting magic to win the defiant warrior-queen Brunhild in marriage. In trade, Gunther gives Siegfried the hand of his own sister Kriemhild. But there's a complication: Brunhild eventually learns that Siegfried posed as Gunther to subdue her. She bitterly lies to Gunther that Siegfried took her virtue, and demands Siegfried's death in retribution. So, Gunther begins plotting with the evil, one-eyed brute Hagen to take down Siegfried and seize his treasure. Hagen finally kills Siegfried in an ambush. Kriemhild is grief-stricken.

The second film "Kriemhild's Revenge" begins with Kriemhild being courted by one Margrave Ruediger, an emissary of the ugly but goodhearted Hun king Etzel. Kriemhild accepts the proposal, but only because she hopes to amass allies to avenge Siegfried's murder. Etzel's appearance is frightening (all the Huns have wonderful makeup and costumes), but he proves to be an unexpectedly loving father to their infant offspring. Meanwhile, the wicked Hagen has secretly dumped Siegfried's entire treasure into the Rhine river.

There is no need for further details, but rest assured that the Nibelungen and Hun tribes clash in a massive, extended battle, staged with a panache that any contemporary director would envy. And of course the story is a tragedy, so there are no victors.

"Siegfried" is arguably the better film, mainly due to two spectacular sequences. The dragon-slaying scene is a knockout, and features a dragon (a large puppet, rather than a stop-motion miniature) that is remarkably convincing by 1924 standards. The monster is not particularly fearsome -- in fact, it's almost pitiful -- but it does breathe smoke and fire, and gush blood from its wound. The second amazing segment is when Alberich guides Siegfried into a mountain to gift him the Nibelungen treasure. The image of a giant plate of riches, borne on the shoulders of a ring of dedicated dwarves, is unforgettable.

From there, "Siegfried" is a slight letdown, mostly focusing on various grim conversations staged within castles. There is an intriguing dream sequence about a clash between white and black birds, inventively depicted with sand animation. But the remaining action is a bit on the talky side, and the staggered, expressionist acting can be dated and creaky. Another significant, somewhat amusing, problem: The "beautiful princess" Kriemhild's makeup is so severe (paging Siouxsie Sioux!) that she literally looks like a man wearing a blond wig. The confusion is strong enough that I looked up the cast to see if the person really was a man.

With the second film "Kriemhild's Revenge" (almost identical in length), the emphasis is more on human choreography than sets. Most of the Huns live in caves, so Etzel's palace is the only set which rivals the Nibelungen's extravagant realm. But the battle footage is incredible, and the eventual destruction of the palace is spectacularly apocalyptic.

Fritz Lang's direction and editing are flawless, and the visuals are not as dated as those in the more celebrated "Metropolis." Every silent-film fan should see this unique saga. And please don't be scared by the extreme length -- the story moves fast, beyond perhaps the middle section of "Siegfried." And no one is demanding that you watch both films in a single sitting.
April 16, 2013
The second volume of "Die Nibelungen" (Think of it as the original "Kill Bill") is a bloody epic about an angry bride out for vengeance (Wow, yeah; it really is the original "Kill Bill"). Far darker than Part I, "Kriemhild's Revenge" forgoes any elements of fantasy and magic, and instead focuses solely on violent military campaigns and political feuds. Lang explores the darker sides of duty, honor, and justice, and there are some damning indictments of character's behavior in the first film. Whereas "Die Nibelungen: Siegfried" has morals easily viewed in black and white (Siegfried = glorious hero, Hagen = diabolical villain), the second part is all shades of gray, and it's impossible to not feel conflicted as the story progresses. It's surprisingly nuanced, and extremely powerful-- this is one of the great silent epics, and is highly recommended (if you have 5 hours to spare). Amazing movie(s).
June 24, 2012
This is the second part of Fritz Lang's two-part epic fantasy saga. It picks up where the first one left off -- SPOILER WARNING -- after Siegfried's death, his wife Kriemhild vows revenge on his murderer, but there are complications resulting in much bloodshed. Action sequences and special effects in older movies often tend to impress me a bit more because they do not have modern technologies at their disposal. This is no different. There are some really spectacular battle scenes here and the entire thing plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy. As a whole, I feel the saga is Lang's warm-up to "Metropolis" but it's still a hell of a warm-up.
David H.
November 23, 2009
Fritz Lang's Filming of the Second Part of the Nibelungen Saga is a Monumental Masterpiece with great Tragedy and fantastic Battles between the Nibelungen and the Huns, the Nibelungen and the Bechlarn and finally Kriemhild get her Revenge on the evil Hagen von Tronje Great Actors, Great Battle Scenes, Great Directons, Great Story, Great Music this is one of the best Movies ever and worthy to present the Biggest German Myth
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