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After Siegfried's dead, Kriemhild marries Etzel, the King of the Huns. She gives birth to a child, and invites her brothers for a party. She tries to persuade Etzel and the other Huns, that they kill Hagen, the murderer of Siegfried, but he is protected by her brothers. A fierce battle begins to force her brothers to give Hagen to her. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
I finally got my wish to see this one in a cinema. I'd seen Fritz Lang's film on video some years ago. I'd been hoping that ideal screening conditions would work their magic.
Conditions were ideal at Cinematheque Ontario. Pristine full-length print. Intertitles in the original Gothic-script German with simultaneous English translation, accurate without being too literal. Live piano accompaniment. Ideal.
The film's magic sputtered for a little while but ultimately failed to catch, at least for me.
This film bears no real relation to Wagner's Ring cycle as I already knew but some may not. Wagner had adapted the 13th c. Niebelungenlied to his own purposes. Part I of Fritz Lang's epic -- "Siegfried" -- has much that will be familiar to listeners of Wagner however.
"Kriemhild's Revenge" is the story of Siegfried's wife Kriemhild, her marriage to King Etzel (Attila) the Hun, and her desire for revenge against Hagen and Gunther, the rechristened Nibelungs, for the murder of Siegfried. The spectacular conflagration in this film presumably evolved and expanded in the Wagnerian mythos into his Götterdämmerung, his Twilight of the Gods, and the end of Valhalla. This film remains earthbound.
Most of the film is spectacular. The massive sets rival those of "Cabiria" (1914), which inspired Griffith's "Intolerance" (1916). Their decoration sets a new benchmark in barbaric splendour. There's a huge cast of scarred, mangy Huns and Art Deco Burgundians. And battles. Battles that never seem to end in fact.
Kriemhild is very successful in her plan of revenge. She manages to destroy all around her. Her loyalty to her martyred Siegfried seems not to stem so much from love, or devotion, but from something closer to psychosis. Lady Macbeth cried out, "Unsex me here." She knew she was emotionally unprepared for what she needed to do. But Kriemhild displays no normal human emotions, and certainly nothing one equates with the feminine principle. She is already "top full of direst cruelty", to borrow Shakespeare's phrase, from the outset. Margarethe Schön and her director convey this with a glower. I don't want to exaggerate, but that glower is virtually the only expression ever to "animate" Kriemhild's face. It's the ultimate in one-note performances. It's clearly intentional however, not simply a case of poor acting.
What we have then on offer is a one-dimensional sketch of an avenging Fury. Some might see Kriemhild as an empowered heroine. I just see the film as misogynistic.
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