Die Nibelungen I & II

Live Piano Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Directed by Fritz Lang.
With Paul Richter, Margarethe Schön, Theodor Loos.
Germany, 1924, 35mm, black & white, silent, 280 min.
German intertitles with English subtitles.

Fritz Lang’s epic two-part saga, written by his wife Thea von Harbou and based on an ancient myth—which also inspired Wagner’s Ring cycle—is a celebration of Germanic nationalism and an idealized view of the past that Lang would ultimately reject when he fled Nazi Germany for Hollywood. For Part I, Siegfried, Lang employs a painterly style, creating symmetry of figures within elaborate, architectural tableaux of monumental proportions that speak to the moral code governing the hero’s actions. The intentional austerity of Part I gives way to a dynamic sense of movement in Part II, Kriemhild’s Revenge, in which the violence becomes frenzied and revenge-driven, with spectacularly staged battle sequences and special effects. Shot entirely in the Ufa studio with elaborate sets and meticulous production design, Lang’s incredible saga remains a visually stunning composition of light and shadow.

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