Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Hands Of Orlac (1924)

Starring Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina, Fritz Kortner, Carmen Cartellieri, Fritz Strassny
Directed by Robert Wiene
(actor & director credits courtesy

After a concert pianist's hands are badly mangled in a train accident, his doctor replaces them, but the pianist becomes traumatized when he learns his new hands came from an executed murderer.

Veidt gives a first rate performance in this classic silent film from Germany, emoting the mental torture his character's experiencing, and extending his hands out limply to seem disconnected from his rest of the body.  Viewers more accustomed to the film remakes of this story might be surprised, as I was, that it's much less steeped in horror than those versions, and is more of a psychological thriller, but has the same somber tone, enhanced by expressionistic lighting.  I'm not sure if it's due to the pacing we're accustomed to now a days, but I found the picture's pace a bit too slow moving, especially during the film's first half.  Still, it's a worthy showcase for Veidt, and a treasure of silent cinema.

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