SIEGFRIED (1924). Directed by Fritz Lang. With Paul Richter, Theodor Loos, Margarete Schon, Hanna Ralph.
This is the first half of Lang’s epic Die Nibelungen, which employs characters from German folklore. Siegfried sets out to win the hand of fair Kriemhild, but first he has to help her brother, King Gunther, win over the completely disinterested queen of Iceland, Brunhilde. Using magical items given to him by the King of the Dwarfs, Siegfried helps Gunther best Brunhilde through trickery. When this comes out, Brunhilde exacts a terrible but understandable revenge. The picture builds in power and interest as it goes along, aided immensely by intense performances from the leads, some elaborate sets, and a splendid sequence wherein Siegfried defeats the colossal dragon Fafnir, played by a highly sophisticated machine. Snatches of Wagnerian opera (from the Ring cycle, also employing some of these characters) played on organ in the background add to the total effect, although they don’t always match with what’s going on in the movie.
Verdict: Interesting silent with some great effects work. ***.