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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Die Nibelungen aka Die Nibelungen: Siegfried + Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache [Blu-ray]

 

(http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/lang.htm, 1924)

 

available from Kino in the US on November 6th, 2012:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #46 / Kino Video

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked / Region 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Disc one Runtime: 2:29:54.041 / 2:30:16.340

Disc two Runtime: 2:11:08.041 / 2:11:29.256

Disc One Size: 45,914,953,343 bytes/ 45,725,905,872 bytes

Disc Two Size: 49,267,207,799 bytes / 48,623,197,292 bytes

Feature Sizes:

45,809,448,960 bytes / 40,147,550,208 bytes

45,530,297,280 bytes / 34,811,393,280 bytes

Video Bitrate:

34.99 Mbps (both) / Disc 1: 31.95 Mbps / Disc 2: 26.95 Mbps

Chapters: 9 + 9 / 20 + 21

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: October 29th, 2012/ November 6th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Disc 1

DTS-HD Master Audio German 1936 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1936 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1569 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1569 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Disc 2

DTS-HD Master Audio German 2007 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2007 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1575 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1575 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Disc 1

DTS-HD Master Audio German 4049 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4049 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio German 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Disc 2

DTS-HD Master Audio German 4161 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4161 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio German 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles (both):

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:
• Newly translated optional English subtitles for the original German intertitles
• New one-hour documentary on the restoration of the film (1:11:25 in 1080P)
• Lavish 56-page booklet with new and vintage writing, rare archival stills, and more!

 

The Legacy of Die Nibelungen (1:08:36 in 1080i)

Fritz Lang on Set (1:44 in 1080i)

Essay by Film Scholar Jan-Christopher Horak (BD-Rom PDF)

 

Bitrates:                                              (MoC Disc 1 TOP, MoC Disc 2 BOTTOM)

 

 

(Kino Disc 1 TOP, Kino Disc 2 BOTTOM)

 

 

Description: Perhaps the most stately of Fritz Lang’s two-part epics, the five-hour Die Nibelungen [The Nibelungen] is a courageous and hallucinatory work, a film in which every single shot might alone endure as an exemplar of visual art. Its extraordinary set-pieces, archetypal themes, and unrestrained ambition have proven an inspiration for nearly every fantasy cycle that has emerged on-screen since – from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings.

In Part One, Siegfried, the film’s eponymous hero acquires the power of invincibility after slaying a dragon and bathing in the creature’s blood. Later, an alliance through marriage between the hero and the royal clan of the Nibelungen turns treacherous, with Siegfried’s sole weakness exploited. In Part Two, Kriemhilds Rache [Kriemhild’s Revenge], Siegfried’s widow travels to the remote land of the Huns to wed the monstrous Attila, and thereby enlist his forces in an act of vengeance that culminates in massacre, conflagration, and, under the auspices of Lang, one of the most exhilarating and terrifying end-sequences in all of cinema.

Adapted from the myth that served as the basis for Wagner’s Ring cycle (though not an adaptation of the operas themselves), Lang’s picture employs its own counterpoint through a systematic, viral series of deranged geometrical patterns and the arresting, kabuki-like quality of the actors’ performances. The result is a film of startling expressionistic power, and a summit of Fritz Lang’s artistry. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the new HD restoration of Die Nibelungen in two-disc Blu-ray and DVD editions.

 

 

The Film:

This lushly produced UFA production from Fritz Lang was adapted from the Norse sagas, and also from the Wagner operas +Siegfried, +Gotterdaemmerung, and +Lohengrin. There is also a sequel -- Kremhilde's Revenge (Kriemhild's Rache). Siegfried (Paul Richter), son of King Siegmund, masters the art of forging a sword at the shop of Mime (George John). On his journey home, he hears tales of Kriemhild, the princess of Burgundy (Margarete Schoen). En route to Burgundy, Siegfried slays the dragon Fafnir, and bathes in his blood. This mades him invulnerable to attack -- except for one spot on his shoulder blade which he has missed. After finding the treasure of the dwarfs, Siegfried arrives in Bergundy. He meets the beautiful Kriemhild and accompanies King Gunther (Theodor Loos) to Iceland. The king wins the powerful Brunhilde (Hanna Ralph) as his wife, and Siegfried weds Kriemhild. Brunhilde plots to have Siegfried killed and makes up lies about him to the King. Gunther's uncle, Hagen Tronje (Hans Schlettow), finds Siegfried's weak spot and pierces it with a spear. After confessing that she made up stories about Siegfried, Brunhilde kills herself. An interesting side note: Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels both claimed this film as one of their favorites.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Siegfried, son of King Sigmund, hears of the beautiful sister of Gunter, King of Worms, Kriemhild. On his way to Worms, he kills a dragon and finds a treasure, the Hort. He helps Gunther to win Krimhild, a mask that makes him invisible proves to be very useful. But because Brunhild is cursing Kriemhild, she tells her what really happened. Now Brunhild wants Siegfried's head. Is Gunther going to do her that favor?

Excerpt from TCM  located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Brilliant! Firstly, Masters of Cinema's Blu-ray package consists of two dual-layered 1080P-transferred discs. Together this represents over 4 hours 40-minutes of Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen divided between the two discs as Die Nibelungen: Siegfried with the second containing Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache. This is the HD restoration of the film by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, with its original frame-rates and in its original aspect-ratio. MoC have max'ed out the bitrate and the resulting 1080P image quality is wonderful - at times, breathtaking. The higher resolution elevates the digitally-transferred visuals to impressive heights. The image has sequences of fire and smoke-filled mythological mystery to rich-detail via golden-orange tint with pleasing contrast layering. Of course, there are some less-perfect parts but overall the restoration borders upon miraculous. Disc 2 with Kremhilde's Revenge may be marginally sharper but both Blu-rays export this epic adventure with a deep immersive quality that I haven't encountered before. I really felt part of the silent-era presentation. Yes, it looks that good. In a word 'Incredible'.

 

Firstly, I am confident that I have most the of screen capture matches exact - as damage marks are duplicated. This is from the same Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung restoration and it is also two dual-layered 1080P-transferred Blu-ray discs. The Kino image also looks good but is different from the Masters of Cinema transfer. The Kino is darker with a richer orange/golden tint. This achieves two things - information, especially in the background can become more visible but also damage marks become more prominent. It's a trade-off and not having this seen this extensive restoration theatrically I can't know which is more accurate. I toggled back and forth between the two releases and there wasn't enough of a disparity to make me choose one over the other - but I do like the darker visuals in some scenes. It was as epic and overwhelming as the Masters of Cinema presentation - the UK disc having a slight technical superiority with a higher bitrate for both discs.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Die Nibelungen: Siegfried

(Intertitle-subtitle sample)

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

Audio :

Audio comes with the option of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1936 kbps or a stereo option at 1569 kbps. I opted for the 2.0 channel but tested the surround in a few spots. The lossless rendering of Gottfried Huppertz's score sounds wonderful breathing life into the ancient images - operatic yet precise to suit the setting. Very supportive and crisp via uncompressed. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles for the original German intertitles (see sample above) and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

It is Kino with the technical edge in the audio. It is the same Gottfried Huppertz's score offered in both surround and 2.0 channel for both discs. It may be slightly more robust but I couldn't state with any certainty that my ears were picking up any significant differences. I thought it, too, sounded great. Kino also use the original German intertitles and the subtitles have a slightly different translation but the meaning was similar enough from my memory and in my limited testing. The Kino disc is region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

The only digital extra is a doozy - the 2011 one-hour 11-minute documentary by Guido Altendorf and Anke Wilkening on the restoration of the film entitled The Heritage of Die Nibelungen in 1080P. It covers swaths of detailed information about the film, its meticulous restoration with split-screen examples and much more. It is narrated in German by Michael Seeboth and Jochen Nix and there are optional English subtitles. There is also on of MoC's typical lavish booklets - 56-pages - with new and vintage writing, rare archival stills, the words of Lang - essays by Eisner, Gunning, Michael Powell, Wilkening (on the tinting) and many impressive stills. Excellent!

 

Again, similar, if not exact - the same The Heritage of Die Nibelungen is included as an extra although it is transferred in an inferior interlaced (and PAL sped-up - without conversion) rendering. Kino also include some footage of Lang on set for less than 2-minutes and a digital essay PDF accessible from a computer BD-ROM drive. 

 

(Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - LEFT vs. Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
What can one say - this presentation is... unreal. This package should be an easy top-consideration for Blu-ray of the year. This is so much to Lang's film that you could probably watch it a dozen times and see deeper imagery each time. I thoroughly enjoyed this epic and the appreciate the included documentary and booklet for further education. Yes, we can easily endorse this as a highly important part of any digital library. It has our highest recommendation!

 

In my personal opinion, the slight differences don't offer enough of a disparity to adamantly pick one over the other - both give an amazing presentation package for the incredulous film epic. Region-locked audiences don't have an option and those that do might consider sticking with the least expensive package - one the of year's best!  

Gary Tooze

October 8th, 2012

October 23rd, 2012

 

available from Kino in the US on November 6th, 2012:


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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