A wealthy man invites the local wealthy bachelors over for a puppet show about men who covet another man's wife. The puppeteer is actually a witch and gives the men nightmares about what could happen if they date the lady of the house.
Extremely rare work of Robert Wiene. From the director and year of excellent "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" this work was eventually overshadowed by the success of Caligari. It has a dreamy atmosphere, like another world or something.
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski,
For Balduin, going out to beer parties with his fellow students and fighting out disputes at the tip of the sword have lost their charms. He wants to find love; but how would he, a ... See full summary »
Elizza La Porta,
Balduin, a student of Prague, leaves his roystering companions in the beer garden, when he finds he has reached the end of his resources. He is scarcely seated in a quiet corner when a ... See full summary »
A pianist has a transplant operation that gives him a new pair of hands. Unfortunately, the hands belonged to a murderer, and he finds the hands starting to take over his life and commit ... See full summary »
In the castle Vogeloed, a few aristocrats are awaiting baroness Safferstätt. But first count Oetsch invites himself.. Everyone thinks he murdered his brother, baroness Safferstat's first ... See full summary »
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
The film was released in the United States over three years after its original release in Austria and Germany. An entire reel was edited out of the USA import version of the film, prompting a mixed critical reception in the country. See more »
When Orlac reads a newspaper, the headlines are in German but the body in French. See more »
In the opening credits, all cast members are billed by their last names only. See more »
I've been looking for a DVD of THE HANDS OF ORLAC ever since I knew the film existed. Now it's finally here, and like most silent films it's a mixed bag. I find the image on the new KINO disc to be acceptable considering the problematic nature of the source material. There's a loss of definition in some scenes, but there are also moments of sharpness in the restored Murnau Foundation print. It's a shame we can never experience non-talking films the way 1920s audiences did, without washed-out contrasts, image-flickers, frame-jitters, dirt, and print damage. Even the best restorations don't look new.
The plot concerns a concert pianist whose hands are smashed in a train wreck. A surgeon replaces them with the hands an executed criminal. Soon the pianist is obsessed with thoughts he might be a killer. The performances are generally excellent in the Expressionistic style. Conrad Veidt's exaggerated grimacing as his character Paul Orlac approaches madness is tempered by moments that are extremely moving.
The score of mostly string music on the KINO disc is creepy and works well for a while, but is so monotonous over the entire length of an already ponderously paced film that I grew tired of it. This film cries out for music that varies its mood to fit what is happening on screen. Contrasts in the mood of the music would make the creepy parts seem even creepier. An optional score in a traditional style would have been nice. Nevertheless, the Gothic set design and shadow-infested cinematography by Gunther Krampf - particularly the scenes at Orlac's father's house - create the atmosphere we know and love in early horror films. These chiaroscuro light-and-shadow effects just cannot be achieved with color.
However, to evoke fear without the modern cheats of gore and violence - to create what the Germans call "stimmung" (mood) - requires not only imaginative lighting and set design, but time. Unfortunately director Robert Weine spends too much time on the actors' very deliberate expressionistic movements at the expense of pacing.
The ending is likewise unsatisfactory, although it does follow Maurice Renard's novel. I won't give too much away other than to say the ending undercuts an apparently fantastic element, yet makes the "logical" explanation seem almost as implausible. Nevertheless, the build-up to the resolution as well as Veidt's engrossing performance makes this a worthwhile, if uninspired, film.
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