The Spiders
(Die Spinnen)

Live Musical Accompaniment
Screening on Film
Directed by Fritz Lang.
With Carl de Vogt, Ressel Orla, Lil Dagover.
Germany, 1919, digital video, black & white, silent, 173 min.

The Spiders was conceived as a four-film cycle—like such contemporary dystopian “franchises” as Twilight and The Hunger Games—although only the first two of the series were ever made. Even these were considered lost films for decades until a Czech print surfaced in the 1960s and the films were restored, with some consultation from Lang. Predating his later interest with technology, law and criminality, these early films instead illustrate his fascination with the exotic, which would surface again in Destiny and then submerge until the very end of his career. In place of the resolute modernism of Lang’s later cinema is a fascination with the picturesque and with age-of-exploration action sequences involving canoes and rowboats, rather than airplanes and rockets. Indeed, the film’s dashing hero, Kay Hoog, is generally acknowledged to be one of the inspirations for Indiana Jones. In these two films, Hoog journeys from San Francisco to Central America to England battling the sinister crime syndicate whose name provides the title for the series.

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