Die Nibelungen (1966–67 film)

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Die Nibelungen
Die Nibelungen 1966 1967 part 1 poster.jpg
Original film poster of part 1
Directed byHarald Reinl
Produced byArtur Brauner
Written byHarald G. Petersson, Harald Reinl, Ladislas Fodor
StarringUwe Beyer
Karin Dor
Herbert Lom
Music byRolf A. Wilhelm [de]
CinematographyErnst W. Kalinke [de]
Edited byHermann Haller
Distributed byConstantin Film
Release date
1966 (part 1)
1967 (part 2)
Running time
91 min. (part 1)
90 min. (part 2)
CountryWest Germany

Die Nibelungen is a 1966/1967 West German fantasy film released in two parts, Siegfried von Xanten and Kriemhilds Rache (Kriemhild's Revenge). It was directed by Harald Reinl and produced by Artur Brauner. Die Nibelungen starred Uwe Beyer, Karin Dor and Herbert Lom. The two films were a remake of Fritz Lang's 1924 silent classic Die Nibelungen, which was in turn based on the epic poem the Nibelungenlied.


Siegfried von Xanten defeats the dragon Fafnir, and becomes invulnerable by bathing in the beast's blood. He then wins a net of invisibility (Tarnkappe) and the legendary Treasure of the Nibelungs (Nibelungenschatz) from the dwarf Alberich. Siegfried falls in love with Kriemhild, sister of King Gunther of Burgund. However, Gunther will not allow Siegfried to marry her until he has helped Gunther to win a wife himself. They travel to Iceland where Siegfried helps Gunther to defeat and win Queen Brunhild. They return to the Burgundian court at Worms and both weddings take place. However, jealousy and envy cause frictions at the court. Intrigues eventually result in Hagen of Tronje killing Siegfried during a hunt.[1] In part 2, Kriemhild marries Etzel, King of the Huns, in order to gain revenge for the murder of her husband. The Burgundians, led by Gunther and Hagen, follow an invitation after Kriemhild gives birth to Ortileb, and travel to Etzel's hall, where they are attacked by the huns. Hagen kills Ortileb in the fight. There is a great slaughter and Gunther is killed. Finally Kriemhild kills Hagen and is then killed herself.[2]



Die Nibelungen is a remake of the eponymous 1924 silent film directed by Fritz Lang. Lang's film had also been released in two parts (Siegfried and Kriemhilds Rache) and was based on a screenplay written by Lang and his wife, Thea von Harbou. The original source for the story was the Middle High German epic poem Das Nibelungenlied, likely written around the year 1200. This in turn was based on motifs from even older Germanic myths. Although a new screenplay was written by Harald G. Petersson, Ladislas Fodor and director Harald Reinl, in many respects it followed the earlier version fairly closely.

In the late 1950s, German producer Artur Brauner had wanted Fritz Lang to remake his own silent film and had already informed the press that the project would go ahead. However, in the fall of 1959, Lang energetically resisted this proposal, pointing out that it could be interpreted as Lang "not having anything new to say and being forced to fall back on successes of the past".[3]:147 Lang ended up making three films for Brauner that were in fact referencing his own past (The Tiger of Eschnapur, The Indian Tomb and The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse), but it took another six years for Brauner to find the right director for his Nibelungen project. Harald Reinl had been the commercially most successful director of the 1950s and 1960s in Germany.[3]:147 But it was the vast box office success of his three films (1963, 1964, 1965) based on Karl May's Winnetou character that convinced Brauner that Reinl was the right man for the job. Brauner wanted a disciplined worker who would respect budgets even without constant direct control by the producer, who could deal with large numbers of extras and who had experience shooting in Yugoslavia. Reinl also was fond of impressive landscape shots and, in conjunction with a symphonic music score, these were supposed to add gravitas to the story.[3]:147

The 1966/1967 film was produced by Artur Brauner's CCC Filmkunst in cooperation with Belgrad-based Avala Film.[1] Both parts were shot back-to-back between 20 April and 20 October 1966.[1] Locations included what was then Yugoslavia[1] (today's Serbia: Sremska Rača, Smederevo fortress and Slovenia: Postojna Cave) as well as Iceland,[1] and Spain[1] (Ciudad Encantada and Cuenca). Interiors were shot at CCC-Studios in Berlin-Spandau and at the Avala-Studios in Belgrad.[1] To save on costs, the large-scale sets (the court at Worms and Etzel's Hall) were constructed in the Belgrad studios. However, this was the limit of the cooperation with Avala and the total cost of Die Nibelungen reportedly came to 8 million DM, which would have made it the most expensive post-war film in West Germany at the time.[3]:147

According to a survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute prior to shooting, 35% of participants wanted to see a movie about the hero Siegfried, but he had to be blonde and played by an unknown actor.[3]:147 Uwe Beyer, an olympic hammer thrower (Bronze medalist in 1964) was selected to play Siegfried. He had no prior acting experience and was dubbed by Thomas Danneberg in postproduction.


Siegfried von Xanten premiered on 13 December 1966 at Mathäser-Filmpalast in Munich.[1] Kriemhilds Rache followed on 16 February 1967.[2] Both were released by Constantin Film.[1] In 1976, the film was re-released as a single film of 110 minutes length, also titled Die Nibelungen. It was released again in 1982 under the title Das Schwert der Nibelungen.


The films were very successful commercially. Siegfried von Xanten was awarded the Goldene Leinwand in 1967 for more than 3 million tickets sold within 18 months in West Germany.[1] Critics were unimpressed, however, and their response has been summarised as "withering".[3]:147 Der Spiegel called the first part "childish hero-cinema"[4] and part 2 "a simple, high-body-count spectacle".[5] The Lexikon des internationalen Films found "familiar motifs from the Nibelungenlied as material for a naive-elaborate, at times comical, adventure series in picture-book style".[6] The re-cut version of 1976 was considered even worse than the original.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Filmportal: Die Nibelungen. 1. Siegfried von Xanten". Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Filmportal: Die Nibelungen. 2. Kriemhilds Rache". Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Dillmann-Kühn, Claudia (1990). Artur Brauner und die CCC (German). Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt. ISBN 978-3-88799-034-3.
  4. ^ "Leichen unter Eichen (German)". Der Spiegel (52/1966). 19 December 1966. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Gemetzel bei Etzel (German)". Der Spiegel (11/1967). 6 March 1967. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  6. ^ Katholisches Institut für Medieninformation (ed.) (1991). Lexikon des internationalen Films, Band 6 (German). Rowohlt. p. 2775. ISBN 978-3-499-16322-7.
  7. ^ "Nibelungen auf der Leinwand (German)" (PDF). Geschichte. January 2007. Retrieved 25 March 2013.[permanent dead link]

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