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Kay Hoog wants to stop the organisation "Die Spinnen" to get a certain diamond, that will give the owning woman the crown of Asia, but the man, who should be the owner of that diamond, doesn't know of its existence.... Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
This is the second part of a planned quartet of films, which renowned director Fritz Lang chose to make in preference to the better-known Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Since his first two films are lost, these adventure flicks (which he also wrote) are the earliest glimpses we can see of his budding style. Please refer also to my comment on part one of The Spiders for more information and analysis.
The first part of The Spiders had a plot that was flimsy and flexible enough to make any excuse for the next action set piece. Part two slows things down to a more realistic pace, and yet the plot is equally thin and literally holey. Whereas part one more or less continuously followed the exploits of hero Kay Hoog, part two is filled with digressions and minor characters, and is occasionally hard to follow. There are also some inexplicable gaps where a title card replaces action for example when Hoog is captured in the underground city, we are told this rather than shown it. Missing footage perhaps, although there is nothing to suggest this is the case. As in part one, there is a great variety of locations, and Lang's imagination is constantly throwing up new ideas, but unlike the first part the action sequences are few and far between.
Turning now from story to technical style, part two is largely set in interiors, which is all the better for Lang to get the angles right. You can see evidence of that angular, impersonal approach to shot composition that is there in all his pictures, even the B-movies he made in the 50s. Often, the arrangements appear to be simply for aesthetic taste, but here and there is method and meaning to it. Lang likes to show off the height or depth of an interior set, making his characters appear small. In many scenes the environment seems to be hemming the actors in and dictating their movements. Towards the end he shows the spider gang in small rooms with not much space between the camera and the back wall, emphasising their trapped position.
But Lang's growing confidence with space is not enough to save The Diamond Ship. The first picture, in spite of its flaws, had a certain charm in its innocent and pure adventure. The sequel has all of the flaws and none of the charm.
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