1 May 2009 | FerdinandVonGalitzien
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/