Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Die Nibelungen: Siegfrieds Tod

I recently rewatched 'Siegfrieds Tod' ('Siegfried's Death', 1924), the first film in Fritz Lang's two-part "Germanic saga" 'Die Nibelungen' ('The Nibelungen'). I have some difficulty describing what I took from the picture this time. Is Lang's film the barest, broadest archetypal outline of The Tragic Form, or is it incapable of standing alone, as anything but the Act One for its sister film's Two and Three? Do the characters possess any psychology at all, or all the psychology imaginable via the formulation "woman is the future of man"? At what degree of oppression, infection, must a vision of the world stagnate that an eye-socket goes empty and fills up with hair?

One thing is certain: Perceived at its most rudimentary level as an exploration of The Tragic Form's tenets, the film illustrates how Doom moves like a virus — as deception starts to multiply and blood to boil and flow, every surface in the frame becomes progressively more overtaken by zig-zag patterns, swirls, psycho-hypnotic ornamentation. The answer then to "Why doesn't Lang put Wagner to use"? Because in the architecture of Wagner one can find arias; the architecture in Lang is built out of shrieks. Of all the filmmakers on earth, Lang would have been ideal for bringing us the court of Vlad Ţepeş.

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