“Earth, you were once soaked in Siegfried’s blood. One day I shall come and drench you with the blood of Hagen Tronje!”
Grieving widow Kriemhild (Margarete Schon) agrees to marry Attila the Hun (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) when he promises to defend her name at any cost. After the birth of their son, Kriemhild invites her brother (Theodor Loos) and the murderous Hagen Tronje (Hans Adalbert von Schlettow) for a visit, intending to have Tronje killed; but when Attila refuses to harm his guests, the single-minded Kriemhild enlists the help of local Huns in seeking bloody revenge on the man who killed her husband.
Response to Peary’s Review:
This sequel to Fritz Lang’s Siegfried was filmed at the same time, and originally intended to fit the second part of a double-bill. Unfortunately, while it efficiently completes the story told in the early 13th-century epic poem Nibelunglied, it lacks the magical fantasy elements of its precursor, instead presenting a much darker, bloodier story “geared for adults”. With that said, as Peary notes, “the visuals are equally impressive,” and it’s satisfying to watch “the character of Kriemhild, so passive in part one, become one of the most formidable heroines in film history”. Indeed, Kriemhild overpowers even her notoriously autocratic husband Attila the Hun, who is presented here as “a sympathetic figure” — someone who “respects women, plays with babies, cries, and wants his guests to have a good time” (!). It’s too bad we’re not given more scenes between these two newlyweds; instead, Lang pads out the narrative with far too many lengthy — albeit impressively staged — battle scenes. Nonetheless, this classic silent epic remains must-see viewing for all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Margarethe Schon as Kriemhild
- Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Attila
- Wonderfully expressive costumes and make-up
- Lang’s “geometric” framing of characters and buildings
- Evocative set designs
- Carl Hoffman and Gunther Rittau’s cinematography
- The Huns emerging from their insect-like caves
Yes. While not as enjoyable as Siegfried, this bloody sequel remains must-see viewing as well.