The Nibelungen | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Nibelungen 

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Fritz Lang's first real blockbuster was this 1924 two-part silent epic, based on the 13th-century German legend that also inspired Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung. Part one, Siegfried, describes the adventures of the son of a Norse king (Paul Richter) who seeks (and eventually gains) the hand of the beautiful maiden Kriemhild (Margarethe Schon) and who bears a magic sword, which he uses against a fire-breathing dragon in the forest. Part two, Kriemhild's Revenge, occurs after the death of Siegfried, when his widow accuses her half-brother Hagan of murdering him. Her revenge entails marrying the king of the Huns and bearing him a son, and culminates in a bloody feast. The films to be shown have recently been restored to their original form and length by the Munich Film Museum, and are said to be truly stunning; even the truncated 16-millimeter prints I've seen are visually impressive, so this promises to be a luminous event. Enno Patalas, the museum's director, will introduce both programs, and Dennis James will provide organ accompaniment. Sponsored by the Goethe-Institut and the Film Center of the Art Institute. (Music Box, Siegfried: Monday, March 27; Kriemhild's Revenge: Tuesday, March 28)

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