review for Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache on AllMovie

Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache (1924)
by Tom Vick review

Like its predecessor, Siegfried's Death, the very title of Kriemhilde's Revenge gives away a plot that functions mainly as a framework for Fritz Lang to work out one of the major thematic preoccupations of his career: the destructive power of vengeance. The question is not if Kriemhilde (Margarete Schoen) will succeed in avenging the death of her beloved Siegfried at the hands of the malevolent Hagen Tronje (Hans Adalbert von Schlettow) -- but when. Grim, steely eyed, and terrifyingly single-minded, Kriemhilde transforms herself into the very personification of vengeance, bent on annihilating anyone and anything that stands in her way. The action in Kriemhilde's Revenge shifts from the opulent court at Worms to the desert kingdom of the Huns, whose monarch (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) Kriemhilde has agreed to marry as part of her plan. The film's visual scheme, while no less spectacular than that of Siegfried's Death, is much less stately and angular, reflecting the Huns' more humble, almost savage homeland. After she lures Hagen and his conspirators (including her own brothers) into her husband's castle, Kriemhilde's revenge takes the form of a final, epic battle (one of many awesome set pieces in Lang's films) that accomplishes her goal while laying waste to virtually the entire kingdom and everyone in it. Taken together, Siegfried's Death and Kriemhilde's Revenge form a silent era landmark -- operatic retellings of ancient myths that exploit all of Lang's silent film artistry.