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The Hands of Orlac (1924)

Orlacs Hände (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Horror, Mystery | 4 June 1928 (USA)
A world-famous pianist loses both hands in an accident. When new hands are grafted on, he doesn't know they once belonged to a murderer.

Director:

Robert Wiene

Writers:

Louis Nerz, Maurice Renard (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Conrad Veidt ... Paul Orlac (as Veidt)
Alexandra Sorina Alexandra Sorina ... Yvonne Orlac (as Sorina)
Fritz Strassny Fritz Strassny ... Der alle Orlac (as Strassny)
Paul Askonas Paul Askonas ... Der Diener (as Askonas)
Carmen Cartellieri Carmen Cartellieri ... Regine (as Cartellieri)
Hans Homma Hans Homma ... Dr. Serral (as Homma)
Fritz Kortner Fritz Kortner ... Nera (as Kortner)
Edit

Storyline

Orlac is a world famous pianist. One day he is badly hurt in a big train wreck. He is in danger of losing both his hands so his wife begs the doctors to save them. They eventually manage to transplant his hands with those of another deceased person. After his recovery Orlac discovers that there is something seriously wrong with his new pair of hands -- it is as if they had a will of their own. But Orlac doesn't know that they actually belonged to a dangerous murderer. Written by Aljaz Ciber, Slovenia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

Austria | Germany

Release Date:

4 June 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hands of Orlac See more »

Filming Locations:

Listo-Atelier, Vienna, Austria

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored DVD) | (2013 restored)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Censorship boards in Germany and Austria forbade teenagers from seeing the film despite no mention of adult-only elements in their review of the film. See more »

Goofs

When Orlac reads a newspaper, the headlines are in German but the body in French. See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, all cast members are billed by their last names only. See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Unnerving Masterpiece

Ah, what aristocratic days are these!!... These modern times of the new 21st century have many similarities to the old youthful times that Herr Graf spent in Deutschland at the beginning of the ancient 20th century; that is to say, during those days the world had a tremendous financial crisis not to mention the menace of a world flu pandemic. It seemed appropriate then that Herr Von decided to revisit those memories by watching at the Schloss theatre a strange, oppressive film, a picture that reflected those times and the aristocratic mood. A perfect soirée, indeed!... The film was "Orlacs Hände" (1924) by Herr Robert Wiene.

It was a pleasure ( you have to know that German aristocrats have fun in a different and dark way .. ) to watch again such a classic Expressionist masterpiece. Thanks are owed to the longhaired youngsters at Kino who did an excellent restoration of this old nitrate which includes a bearable music score by Herr Paul Mercer that helps one to suppress the memory of the terrible score that was included some time ago in another release of the film; that music was scarier than the film itself.

Even today, to watch "Orlacs Hände" is a disturbing experience aside from appreciating its Expressionist values. Early in the film, the train crash sequence is full of dark and impressive shots that capture the confusion, warning the audience that this is a special oeuvre. It bespeaks a terrible chaos, uncertainty and darkness that engulfs the viewer in an oppressive, tormented atmosphere.

Due to the train crash, Herr Orlac ( Herr Conrad Veidt ) our hero will suffer horrible wounds to body and soul. The physical scars heal up but the psychological wounds are more difficult to overcome, especially when Herr Orlac discovers that his new hands belonged to an assassin. This marks the beginning of a terrible "tour de force" between body and soul that will torment Herr Orlac throughout the film. His fragility is challenged by pain and suffering and though solace and calm ultimately prevail he must first face constant uncertainty, delirium and the threat of insanity.

The Expressionist shadows, appropriately enough, surround the main characters ( The performances by the great Herr Veidt and Dame Alexandra Sorina are also in the Expressionist manner ) and their habitats; their home, at the hospital, and in the streets. An oppressive, morbid, gloomy atmosphere prevails and suits perfectly a story of wicked impulses and disturbed minds.

Hands demanding crimes, the weakness of the human will, blackmail from an unscrupulous criminal, a medical experiment, a father who hates his son… such are the subjects in "Orlacs Hände", an unnerving masterpiece and the perfect aristocratic silent film choice for a cloudy soirée in these 21st uncertain times.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must lend a hand in this time of crisis by drinking only a glass of Rhine white wine instead of the whole bottle.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/


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