I've always taken the huns to be a perversion or parody of the order Sigfried was trying to establish with the Burgundians in the first half. With Sigfried's death, the world has slid back into chaos, and this chaos is represented by a degraded and barely human court, a structure of order that doesn't seem to offer much order. Perhaps this is the echo of a real historical memory: the coming of the huns seemed an apocalypse to the Germanic tribes who were either snuffed out or conquered. It would seem to them like chaos was engulfing an ordered world.matrixschmatrix wrote:There are a lot of interesting things in this, in terms of the representation of the Huns- I'm not entirely sure of how we're supposed to take them. The actual common people among them look and act very much like the dwarves in Siegfried, hairy and primitively armed (though the movie seems to be cheating, since Attila's court existed around the 300s, and the Burgundians appear to be using weapons and armor from something like a thousand years later) and Attila himself looks almost like the modern portrayals of orcs. The movie even represents him as having the elongated skull associated with skull binding- though I can't imagine that would be especially helpful to a warrior. Yet Attila himself is the one man in the series who genuinely never loses or compromises his honor- fascinating, given that his name is almost always associated with historical monstrosity. We get a lot of interesting shots, too- a particularly memorable one is when Kreimhild is standing halfway down a stair case, screaming at the Huns to kill Hagen- the geometrical pattern of her garb, combined with the geometry of the staircase, creates a fascinating effect, and gives her great power, as does her stillness throughout the movie.
The movie is just being accurate to the source material. The Nibelungenlied takes far older legends but sets them in the context of the courtly romances popular at the time of writing (circa the 13th century). I suppose the effect is a bit like setting a Shakespeare play in modern times.matrixschmatrix wrote: (though the movie seems to be cheating, since Attila's court existed around the 300s, and the Burgundians appear to be using weapons and armor from something like a thousand years later)
It's not quite two stories stitched together so much as two--well, more than two, technically, but this is the biggest instance--different takes on the same narrative tradition compiled.matrixschmatrix wrote:I think there was some discussion earlier in the thread about this movie being two unrelated stories, stitched together, and that comes through-
You're not being stupid at all. I think that reaction is fair--further even than old movies, what you're dealing with here are a politics and sensibility that are alien. The Nibelungenlied was written down in the thirteenth century, but the stories go back centuries further, maybe to around 700 or earlier. That value system won't and should not appeal to you, really. If you think the implicit approval of Hagen killing the children is horrifying, in The Volsunga Saga and Poetic Edda, ie. the norse sources, Gudrun (Kriemhild) murders her children with Atli (Etzel) and then feeds them to him before lighting his room on fire and burning down the hall, killing all the huns. And she's not even a villain, like Kriemhild. She's doing this to avenge the deaths of Gunnar (Gunther) and Hogni (Hagen) after Atli conspired to kill them--ie. she's doing the right, heroic thing. And that's not even the most fucked up child murder that happens in this cycle. It was a weird, brutal time. There is much that is offputting. I just treat it--Lang's film included--as a window on a completely different ethos that, in a lot of ways, is too old and too dead to bother condemning. Or, as providing an interesting glimpse of the history of certain negative attitudes still current (eg. with the depiction of women).matrixschmatrix wrote:I can't help but to think I'm being stupid here, since a lot of spectacle movies have bad politics or bad implications in their plots- Metropolis, for one, and I adore Metropolis- but to me, it felt overwhelming here, inescapable.
So, far from being stupid, your reaction is a healthy one. And there is no reason why you ought to shrug off what you're seeing--these politics and values, seen from modern eyes, are batshit crazy. They may or may not reflect an historical reality, but they do reflect how a specific culture saw, if not themselves, then at least their history. So, there's that, I guess.