Siegfried -- Rand's favorite film released on DVD/VHS
Our thanks to movie buff Stan Rozenfeld, who reports that Ayn Rand's favorite film is being issued in a special video release.
In The Romantic Manifesto, Rand wrote:
"As an example of film direction at its best, I shall mention Fritz Lang, particularly in his earlier work; his silent film Siegfried is as close to a great work of art as the films have yet come. … [Lang understood] that a 'motion picture' is literally that, and has to be a stylized visual composition in motion.
"It has been said that if one stopped the projection of Siegfried and cut out a film frame at random, it would be as perfect in composition as a great painting. Every action, gesture and movement in this film is calculated to achieve that effect. Every inch of the film is stylized, i. e., condensed to those stark, bare essentials which convey the nature and spirit of the story, of its events, of its locale. The entire picture was filmed indoors, including the magnificent legendary forests whose every branch was man-made (but does not look so on the screen). While Lang was making Siegfried, it is reported, a sign hung on the wall of his office: 'Nothing in this film is accidental.' This is the motto of great art. Very few artists, in any field, have ever been able to live up to it. Fritz Lang did."
Scripted by Lang's wife at the time, Thea von Harbou (who also wrote Lang's Metropolis), Siegfried presents larger-than-life heroic characters defined by tests of valor and rigid codes of honor. The story is built on the archetypal myth of "the hero's journey," and follows the intrepid Siegfried on his travels through Woden Wood, a land of imposing darkness and death. Along the way he acquires magical weapons and treasures after confronting ogres, dwarfs, and an enormous fire-breathing dragon. Arriving triumphant in Burgundy, he struggles to win the hand of the beautiful Kriemhild, sister to King Gunther.
Siegfried was part one of Lang's 1924 two-part saga, Die Nibelungen, which included its much darker sequel, Kriemhilde's Revenge. Until now the film has remained in relative obscurity, available only in severely truncated versions on late night cable TV. But on December 10, Kino -- an excellent DVD studio -- is releasing Die Nibelungen in a deluxe 291-minute edition, over 100 minutes longer than any version previously available in the United States. The twin-DVD set contains both Siegfried and Kriemhilde's Revenge, plus many extra features, including enhanced imagery, new English title translations, rare footage of Lang on the set, the original score as newly performed by the Munich Radio Orchestra, and much more.
For those who don't own a DVD player, the film also is being issued on two VHS tapes, but without the extras. This may be the better choice for those who wish only to buy Siegfried and not the sequel, however. The retail prices are:
Die Nibelungen: Special Edition
Siegfried and Krimhilde's Revenge -- two DVDs -- 291 minutes, B&W; -- $39.95
Siegfried -- VHS -- 143 minutes, B&W; -- $24.95
Krimhilde's Revenge -- VHS -- 148 minutes, B&W; -- $24.95
Kino is offering the films at a special pre-release discount of 30 percent off these retail prices. For more information, go to www.kino.com.
(Please note: these films are available only to customers in the U. S. and Canada.)