Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Hands of Orlac |
Actor: Conrad Veidt
Director: Robert Wiene
Genres: Art House & International, Horror, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Reuniting the star and director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, THE HANDS OF ORLAC (Orlacs Hände) is a deliciously twisted thriller that blends grand guignol thrills with the visual and performance styles of German Express... more »
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Better Than CALIGARI.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 02/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have waited since 1968 to see this movie which I first encountered in Carlos Claren's seminal book AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE HORROR FILM which traces horror movies from 1895 through 1967. It has been worth the wait. In fact I was so taken with the film that I immediately watched it again and enjoyed it more the second time. Made in 1924 at the height of Expressionism in German silent cinema, THE HANDS OF ORLAC is the one of the finest examples of this genre that I have ever seen. Directed by Robert Wiene (THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI) the film combines lighting, sets, camerawork, and performances into a dreamscape of enormous power.
The movie is like a hallucination come to life as we follow the descent of Conrad Veidt into the depths of madness. Veidt, more than any other silent performer, used his body language to illustrate and convey the most intense emotions. What really surprised me was the sensual almost erotic quality of scenes involving him and the two principal female performers Alexandra Sorina and Carmen Cartellieri. This adds an element not to be found in the more stylized CALIGARI and shows that there was more to Robert Wiene than we have seen so far. The story of a concert pianist whose amputated hands are replaced with those of a murderer has been remade a number of times most notably by MGM in 1935 as MAD LOVE with Peter Lorre. However none of those versions can compare to this one. Having said that let me also say that those unfamiliar with silent films will find this version tough going for it requires you to adjust your present day expectations to those of the silent era where body language and visual storytelling are everything. If you can do that then you should find THE HANDS OF ORLAC a rewarding experience especially on repeated viewings.
The restoration of the film isn't top notch (it resembles how NOSFERATU used to look) but thanks to a remarkably brooding and effective score from Paul Mercer you'll be drawn in before you know it and will hardly notice the imperfections. This is a much better film than THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI and until other of his movies see the light of day to contradict the fact, THE HANDS OF ORLAC is Robert Wiene's masterpiece. Thanks to Kino International and the F.W Murnau Foundation for making it available."
Superb example of Expressionism in film
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 03/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A unique and special part of silent cinema was the German Expressionist style of the 1920s which is characterized by the emphasis on emotions conveyed by atmospheric lighting and expressive acting, as opposed to what we might call `realism'. Although "The Hands of Orlac" is technically an Austrian production, the country is so closely related to Germany that it features a mainly German cast and crew, and all the typical characteristics of the classic German Expressionist style. Scenes have strong shadows or lighting to emphasize moods, and are usually drawn out to allow the actors to fully express emotions, but there are also moments of realism such as a very convincing train wreck site, as well as the fast-moving climax which brings everything back down to earth. Throughout most of this nearly 2-hour-length film, an eerie modern orchestral score contributes to the somewhat other-worldly feeling of the whole story, which revolves around the concept of transplanted hands taking over their new host with characteristics of the hands' original owner. This fascinating idea comes from a French writer of the early 1900s when such Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror stories captured the imagination of many Europeans, and with the advent of moving pictures, they became perfect material for the German Expressionist style, of which "Cabinet of Dr Caligari" and "Nosferatu" are just some of the most famous examples.
Besides the artistic element of using light and shadow, the highlight for me personally is Conrad Veidt's magnificent performance as Orlac, the concert pianist who receives the hands of a convicted murderer after being injured in a train wreck. This role is by far the most intensely expressive and emotion-packed performance I've seen by Veidt, and he carries the suspenseful energy of the story right through the entire film. More than just artistic expression however, "The Hands of Orlac" has a clever murder mystery theme running through it as well which deserves a little careful attention to fully appreciate. With excellent picture quality and very suitable music, this DVD is further enhanced with some bonus features including detailed notes with background information on the film and its cast and crew, as well as a trailer for its equally gripping 1935 sound remake "Mad Love" with Peter Lorre. Needless to say, "The Hands of Orlac" deserves its place alongside the best-known German silent classics, and it has been worth the wait to see the full length restored version released by Kino Video.
Veidt out performs Lon Chaney
Steve Reina | Troy Michigan | 07/16/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A concert pianist is maimed in a train accident.
Tragically...his hands...THE medium of his art are stripped from him.
Then serendipitiy...a doctor performs a surgical replacement and gives him his hands back.
The only problem: the replacement hands came from a killer!
Like an extended rock video this movie plays out its premise. Front and center all the way is Veidt (yes THE Conrad Veidt of Cabinet of Dr. Calligari, Thief of Baghdad, and of course, Casablanca), who comes ever deeper under the shadow of where his hands have been.
And what makes the man? Is it what's in his heart or does his body itself retain what he is?
These metaphysical questions become all too real in the hands (please pardon the pun) of Veidt whose every move conveys the terror of his situation.
I'm not going to spoil your experience of this movie by telling you the ending. But I will say this. I think without make up or any real special effects Veidt manages in this movie to actually out perform even that king of Hollywood impersonation: Lon Chaney. Even though you see no suture lines, you buy that gag that these are someone else's hands and with it of course you buy into Veidt's all to real terror.
I've always been a fan of 1920s German cinema. There was something about that period just before the Nazis came to power that gave German film makers a leg up a communicating real horror through the medium of film. But even among truly great movies, this one still ranks high.
Rent or buy it but look at it and see why."
Anthony J. Adam | 03/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"ORLAC is a gem from the early days of German expressionist filmmaking, with the underrated Conrad Veidt playing a concert pianist who loses his hands in a train accident and has the hands of a murderer implanted in their place. But the story takes second place to the cinematography, with wonderful set-pieces such as the mansion of Orlac's father, the train wreck, and Orlac's piano room. Fans of NOSFERATU will definitely want to take a look here."