Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
YESTERDAY
New Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Posters
The rebels go all Expendables in new images
Jamie Dornan Will Live The Ninth Life Of Louis Drax
Alexandre Aja's new psycho-thriller
New Horns Trailer Launches
Daniel Radcliffe's going through hell
David Frankel Set For Departure
He'll direct the science fiction romance
Steve Carell Attached To Acme Film
Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz writing the Looney Tunes spin-off
New Image For Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Joss Whedon on his bad guy, Hulkbuster and more
Fresh Look At Meryl Streep's Into The Woods Witch
Somebody needs a hairbrush. Or possibly a hedge trimmer.
New Still From Big Hero 6
See it in Baymax
See Benedict Cumberbatch In A New Image From The Imitation Game
His Alan Turing has the key to winning World War II
First Trailer For Trash Arrives Online
Be careful what you toss in the rubbish
Venice 2014: First Look At Birdman
Michael Keaton's not-so-superhero
Trailer For Eduardo Sanchez's Exists
The Blair Witch director finds Bigfoot
More Movie News

RELATED NEWS
23 May 2014
Alfonso Cuarón Offered Shining Prequel
Gravity director may head to Overlook Hotel
More Movie News

RELATED REVIEWS
The Shining (2012)
Empire Star Rating
Metropolis (2010)
Empire Star Rating
Paths Of Glory
Empire Star Rating
Scarlet Street
Empire Star Rating
Eyes Wide Shut
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

First UK Release For Lang's Nibelungen
Siegfried gets a restoration

09 October 2012  |  Written by Owen Williams  |  Source: Eureka

submit to reddit

Long, and not quite fairly, seen as something of a dark blot on Fritz Lang's CV, his epic silent film Die Nibelungen has begun to see its reputation restored in recent years. Now, finally, there's a restored print of the film to go along with it, as Eureka's Masters of Cinema series is about to release the film on DVD and Blu-ray, in its full two-part, five hour glory, for the first time ever in the UK.

Das Nibelungenlied is an epic poem composed sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth century. The first half involves Siegfried, a pure-hearted adventurer intent on wooing the king of Burgundy's daughter Kriemhild. He slays a dragon, kills a dwarf king, gets hold of a cloak of invisibility and steals a lot of treasure. There's also an ill-advised erotic adventure with the Icelandic warrior queen Brunhilde. 

The second half sees the dastardly Lord Hagen stealing Siegfried's treasure, which prompts Kriemhild to marry Atilla the Hun in a revenge plot that climaxes in jaw-dropping carnage.

It's a cornerstone of German culture, probably most famously adapted into Wagner's Ring Cycle, and Lang embarked on the project in 1922 as an attempt to celebrate the country and bolster its flagging pride during its bleak post-WWI period. The lavish spectacle didn't immediately find favour however. It had a disastrous premiere during which the control-freak Lang was still editing the later reels even as the earlier ones were actually playing, while many critics were uncomfortable both with its overt patriotism - some said jingoism - and with its violence.

With depressing inevitability, the film was later championed by the Nazis as "a film of German loyalty." Goebbels praised it in a speech in 1933. Crucially though, its ultimate collapse into violent chaos and nihilism didn't fit the Nazi ideology at all, meaning that during this period the film was only ever shown in incomplete form: the inconvenient second half was witheld from the public. Lang hated the shortened version, and he hated the anti-semitic Wagner, so was understandbly miffed when the version released in the US was not only cut, but used Wagner's opera as the score. Lang fled Germany in 1934, first for Paris and then Hollywood.

Lang was forced to defend the film until the end of his life. In one of his final interviews in the 1970s, he told The Village Voice, "When I made my films I always followed my imagination. By making the Siegfried legend into a film, I wanted to show that Germany was searching for an ideal in her past, even during the horrible time after the First World War in which the picture was made. To counteract the pessimistic spirit of the time I wanted to film this great legend so that Germany could draw inspiration from her epic past, not... as a looking forward to the rise of a political figure like Hitler or something stupid of that sort. I was dealing with Germany's legendary heritage - just as in Metropolis, I was looking at Germany in the future." 

Patrick McGilligan, in his biography of Lang, calls Die Nibelungen "One of the breathtaking wonders of the silent screen... [conveying] with tremendous power the inbred stench of nobility, the suffocating embrace of family, the impossibility of love and marriage... and the inexorability... with which the first guilt entails the last atonement."

The restored two-disc Masters Of Cinema edition, including an hour-long documentary, is out in the UK on October 29. By way of a trailer, there's an impressive dragon-slaying clip online. The label's full schedule for the first quarter of next year has also just been released, comprising of Stanley Kubrick's Fear And Desire, Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel, Fellini's mental City Of Women, Sacha Guitry's Poison, and Kaneto Shindo's amazing Onibaba.


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

'80s-Style Wreck-It Ralph Advert Lands
Litwak's Arcade needs you!
Arrested Development S4 Extended?
Update: More episodes will be shot!

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Rogues Gallery: Powers Boothe
Sin City's Roark talks us through his most memorable baddies

Richard Attenborough: In Celebration
Saluting a man who made a lasting impact on cinema and beyond…

Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)