Wednesday BL- “ARGH!” – “Die Nibelungen”

05 Jul 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", No Comments. Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL- “ARGH!” – “Die Nibelungen”

Die Nibelungen

Germany, 1924

Directed by Fritz Lang

Is Die Nibelungen a fascist film? No.

“But isn’t it based on the Nibelungenlied, the German national epic?” Yes.

“Didn’t Hitler and Goebbles exalt the film?” Sure.

“Wasn’t Fritz Lang’s then wife and co-writer Thea von Harbou later a member of the NSDAP?” Yes.

“Did Lang and Harbou not dedicate the flm to the German people?” They did.

“So…fascist!” Not at all.

The nationalist and potentially fascist qualities of the Nibelungenlied are essentially the same as any other set of myths and legends around the world. Showings of Die Nibelungen during the Nazi era were often restricted to part 1 – this is a significant point. The dedication attached to the film is vague and could mean any number of things – what’s certain is that the complete film cannot rationally be considered fascist.

Die Nibelungen is divided into halves, Siegfried and Kriemhild’s Revenge. Siegfried alone seems by the numbers, the source material merely fodder to make an epic film, albeit a phenomenal one. It is this detachment from circumstance, time, and its second half that enabled Siegfried to be redefined along the lines of the nationalist zeitgeist overtaking Europe. All of the images in Siegfried are stately, refined, perfectly balanced, correct, superior. Formally, it is presentational, lacking much in the way of editorial commentary. One gets the sense of the pre-ordained, the justly right, its grandeur shaped of the great German ideals. Siegfried is absolutely reminiscent of the great romantic tradition.

Kriemhild’s Revenge lacks all of these qualities. Where part 1 is full of lush forests and the lavish architecture of the Burgundians, part 2 is consigned to the dirt and fire of the desert and the nomadic presence of the Huns. Where part 1 is carefully designed and controlled, pleasant to take in and enjoy, part 2 is emotionally unhinged and nihilistic, almost maddening in its obsessive grind towards destruction. Every shot seems fixed on some misbegotten notion of honor and loyalty. The incessant juxtaposition between the burning castle and Kriemhild’s vengeful gaze is nearly unbearable. Far from symbolizing the pure (German) corrupted by the unclean (Hun), the arc of the two films demonstrate the misplaced loyalties and corrupt philosophy that had become ingrained in German thought.

In light of Kriemhild’s Revenge, Siegfried now appears devoid of heroes; its characters cheat, lie, and manipulate their way to power, they are arrogant and malicious, others are weak willed and led on, no one is superhuman, only human, and dangerously so.

– Jonas Erickson

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