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TitleFilm - UK Premiere of Fritz Lang's 'The Nibelungs' ['Die Niebelungen']
Performance Date31 May 1924
Performance DaySaturday
Performance Time15:00
Orchestra or BandLondon Symphony Orchestra
ConductorsAlbert Cazabon
Set List'Prelude' and 'Ride of the Valkyries', Wagner,
Film Screening - 'The Nibelungs',
'God Save the King' (The National Anthem)
Performance NotesThe Nibelungs [Die Nibelungen] is a series of two silent fantasy films created by Austrian German film director Fritz Lang in 1924: 'Die Nibelungen: Siegfried' and 'Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge'. Both films were co-written by Lang's then-wife Thea von Harbou, based upon the epic poem Nibelungenlied written around 1200 AD.

Fritz Lang was to go on to become one of the world's most well-known and critically acclaimed film directors creating the famous 'Metropolis' in 1927 and 'M' in 1931. 'The Nibelungs' was like all of Lang's silent films - very big budget and spectacular, taking two years to complete. The 70 foot long steel and rubber dragon in the film took six months alone to complete. It was controlled by compressed air and 32 men - 10 inside the dragon and 22 in concealed pits below ground. It was able to climb down rocks, drink water, sit on its haunches and could shoot fire 25 feet out of its mouth!

The UK premiere of the film was screened at the Hall after the British rights were acquired by the firm of Graham-Wilcox Productions Ltd. After its presentation at the Royal Albert Hall it was shown in 300 theatres nationwide.

Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels were known fans of the film although Fitz Lang hated this. In a 1974 interview he stated, "By making 'Die Nibelungen' I wanted to show that Germany was searching for an ideal in her past, even during the horrible time after World War I in which the film was made. At that time in Berlin I remember seeing a poster on the street, which pictured a woman dancing with a skeleton. The caption read: 'Berlin, you are dancing with Death.' To counteract this pessimistic spirit I wanted to film the epic legend of Siegfried so that Germany could draw inspiration from her past, and not, as a looking forward to the rise of a political figure like Hitler or some such stupid thing as that."

"The Nibelungs is a production of extraordinary imaginative beauty, and Herr Fritz Lang has created some backgrounds in 'Fairly land' that are unforgettable. Among them are some terrifying views of the magic forest, through which Siegfried has to ride forth on his high adventure - a forest which has no counterpart in actual life, but which has only to be seen to be accepted at once as the ideal 'Fairy' wood. There are some also some excellent views of the 'Castle of Worms' with its turrets and pinnacles and dizzy drawbridge. From the scenic point of view, in fact, the production could not hardly be improved, and some of the 'lighting effects' obtained by Herr Lang are revelations of the art of the cinematograph. The acting is consistently good, with Herr Paul Richter, a virile Siegfried; Fraulein Hanna Ralph, an extremely vengeful Brunhilde; Herr H A Schlettow, an imperious Hagen; and Herr Theodore Loos, a weak but sympathtic Gunther."
(The Times, 5 May 1924)

"The film, the Nibelungs, shown last night at the Albert Hall is artistically the most ambitious ever yet seen in this country. It raises the art of the kinema to a higher plane."
(The Daily Mail, 1924)
Related Archival MaterialProgramme (RAHE/1/1924/19)

Related Names

Ref NoTitleNumber of PerformancesEvent PromoterSponsor
_TagefowlipekFilm - UK Premiere of Fritz Lang's 'The Nibelungs' ['Die Niebelungen']40Graham Wilcox Films, Ufa-Decla Production