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Orlac, affermato pianista, perde le mani in un grave incidente. I medici decidono allora di trapiantargli le mani di un assassino condannato a morte. L'operazione riesce perfettamente, ma, da quel momento, una serie di strani omicidi, generalmente commessi a mezzo dello strangolamento delle vittime, vengono commessi e la polizia, che inizialmente brancola nel buio, comincia a sospettare del pianista. Alla fine si scopre che il colpevole era, invece, da tutt'altra parte. Written by
Great German Expressionist Film That is Slowly Paced
Flirting with a (then) science fictional theme of body part transplantation, the film explores the feelings of a concert pianist, who having lost his hands in a train wreck, receives a new pair of hands that belonged to an executed murderer. Austrian director Robert Weine, who created the landmark 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' (1919) here reunites with and directs its star, Conrad Veidt, as the tormented pianist Paul Orlac.
The camera focuses on Veidt's many moods and reactions to his plight -- his hands are not capable of his concert abilities, and he feels that they are taking him over with thoughts and deeds of crime and murder. He does an outstanding job, but too much of the film is slowly paced. From the beginning extended train crash rescue, on through scene after scene of Orlac's, his wife's and the maid's over the top Expressionistic gesturing, the scenes seem to go on too long.
This slow pace is exaggerated by the lack of camera movement (everything is mostly wide shots with little tracking), the wonderfully and effectively spooky new musical score (on the KINO 2008 version), that sometimes lacks verve and variety, as well as the extensive time spent on the actors' Expressionist movements.
The film certainly has its high points. It's great to see an entire film shot in shadows and low light, all with Gothic sets. This is great German Expressionism. If you can relax and just go with the pace of the film, you can really enjoy the acting of Conrad Veidt-- whose hands keep getting creepier and scarier.
If it were cut to about sixty minutes to pick up the pace, it would be easier to enjoy and to see the great care that went into its creation and execution.
I'll have to give it a six.
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