Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache (Kriemhild's Revenge) Reviews
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.
orchestrated by his colleagues and his wife Kriemhild is aware of it, in this piece she steps forward and takes action.
After her husband's murder Kriemhild makes a vow for vengeance an viewer is kept in suspense on how that's going to come about....until a King/warlord named Attila(yeah reference is pretty obvious) asks for her hand in marriage the opportunity arises. Kriemhild does not love Attila but she can manipulate him to her will in the name of her dead husband(its like if The Palm Beach Story and Double Indemnity traveled back in time and had a pissed off baby) from then on the film descends into the most elaborate drawn out and cold story of revenge in silent film.
For a film that's about 5 hours long it would be hard to watch in one sitting but I recommend it to fully encompass Lang's radical vision. The shift from the first to the second half is unlike anything I've seen. In Lang's universe even what is essentially a fairytale is prone to full scale carnage and the wide eyed damsel in distress becomes a hollowed killing machine as she says to Attila "we were never in love but now we are united in hate". What is genuinely frightening is that as a pointed out Hitler was fond of the film, most of Lang's films in fact and while its evident what he admired in the fist half its quiet scary to think what he saw in this one. Lang was aware of Hitler's admiration of this film and allegedly made the Mabuse films and Spione and even 'M' as a jab at the Nazis depicting a world of paranoia that while stylized felt all too real. Above the insight Lang gives in this film wasn't far off from what would become reality only years later.
People who call themselves film buffscan't ever seem to shut up about Kubrick and how 'cold' his visions are whenever people go off on this tagents I point them in Lang's direction, and tell them Kubrick is a kid with tinker toys next to Lang, his noirs are miles ahead of 'The Killing' and Scarlet Street maneuvers around the censors in a way Kubrick's film never could. The future in Metropolis is bleaker than A Clockwork Orange, and the atrocities of war which Lang would predict with this film are far more harrowing than Full Metal Jacket. The point is Lang had an insight to the world we live in that most filmmakers strive to attain, even when he's dealing with something of myth his understanding of mankind's dark side or as his appropriately titled biography called it 'The Nature of The Beast' was always at work and this is no exception.
Ce qui fait la relative faiblesse de cette seconde partie, c'est surtout qu'en comparaison avec la première, elle est bien pauvre en rebondissements. Beaucoup de longueurs, la scène finale du combat étant même parfois victime d'une certaine redondance. Toutefois, l'aspect drame épique de l'oeuvre est très réussi. Kriemhild, bien que n'affichant qu'une seule expression faciale, est convaincante dans le rôle de la névrosée qu'aucune morale ne saurait arrêter. Quant au personnage du roi Gunther, son entêtement stupide à défendre le meurtrier ignoble de son beau-frère et de son neveu agace tellement que le plan de sa tête tranchée est tout simplement jouissif.
Des décors encore une fois grandioses, des costumes remarquables, mais des lacunes notoires au niveau du scénario dont la longueur n'est pas justifiée par le contenu. Il faut donc en quelque sorte prendre son courage à deux mains pour s'attaquer à cette deuxième partie, mais ses qualités artistiques en valent le détour, en plus d'offrir une conclusion pour le moins étoffée à la triste saga des Nibelungen. Déconseillé aux impatients.