review for Die Nibelungen: Siegfried on AllMovie

Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924)
by Tom Vick review

With its monumental sets, heroic action, and sweeping, epic narrative, Siegfried's Death is one of Fritz Lang's greatest silent film spectacles. Like his more famous Metropolis, every scene is a meticulously composed, eye-popping triumph of visual design. Lang treats the story (which would have been well known to contemporary German audiences) more or less as a pretext for creating dazzling images of vast, mist-enshrouded forests, towering castles, and kings, queens, and heroes decked out in elaborate costumes. Early on in the film, the action seems almost perfunctory. Siegfried's nemesis, Fafner the Dragon, which Lang designed himself and is one of the mechanical marvels of the silent era, hardly puts up a fight, but his death provides one of Lang's earliest and most potent images of fate's unseen hand. Fafner's death throes shake a single leaf from a tree that falls on Siegfried, who is bathing in the dragon's blood to render himself invincible. The leaf prevents the blood from touching a small part of his back, providing the single vulnerable spot that will lead to his inevitable defeat later. After Siegfried's battles with Fafner and the Nibelungen, the rest of the film sets aside action and concentrates on the nest of lust, treachery, and vengeance in the royal court at Worms, setting the stage for the equally stunning sequel Kriemhild's Revenge.