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Fritz Lang

Die Nibelungen * Fritz Lang (1924)

A long time ago we bought a nice box in Germany with Fritz Lang’s Nibelungen epic. We had not watched it yet because of the length. I had some three hours in my head, but actually, Lang’s Nibelungen film are two films (“Siegfried” and “Kriemhilds Rache”) which are both well over two hours. Quite a sit!
The films are silent with pompous music and text-screens to show what people are saying. There are not very many of these text-screens so it helps a lot when you know the story. There is of course the continental Nibelungenlied that this film is based on, but the same story also makes part of the Eddas that were written down in Iceland. I think I know the Icelandic version better, since the film has some unexpected elements.
You may know that this is a love story in which dragonslayer Siegried falls in love with Kriemhild. When Siegried dies, Kriemhild takes violent revenge.
Like his “Metropolis”, this film of Fritz Lang looks wonderfull. The stages and the costumes are great, but not very medieval. There are all kinds of weird characters. For the time, there is the usual overacting, but Lang surely had an eye for detail and there is some interesting camera work.
In all, two times 2+ hours of a silent film, but a bit too much, but I am happy to have seen this classic.

Metropolis * Fritz Lang (1927)

Lang had a vision of the year 2000 and made a film of it in 1927. This makes “Metropolis” a science-fiction film of course. Inspired by the Manhatten skyline, Fritz created a ‘worker’s city’ with skyscrapers, but this city is deep underground. The working men live in the underworld, while the rich people live in the upper world. Both worlds are governed by Joh Fredersen. Fredersen’s son falls in love with a woman and becomes concerned by the fate of the workers. These workers have put their hope in a visionary woman, but a failed trick of Fredersen, the workers start to rebel against ‘the machines’ (and the rich people, Fredersen in particular) causing the destruction of their own city.
Being 80 years old, “Metropolis” is a non-speaking film with very bombastic music and images with texts for explanation or what someone says. During the years the original film crumbled and got lost for 25%. According to the makers of the DVD version that I saw, their version comes closest to the original. Inspite of the loss of a large part of the film, it still takes 2 hours. The film itself is alright. The production was massive (over 37.000 people cooperated!), the stages are nice, expecially for that time and the nazis liked it so much that they asked Lang to make their films. Lang fled to Hollywood, making more films for another 30 years. A classic that you may want to see some time.