Whom the Gods Wish to Destroy (1966)

WHOM THE GODS WISH TO DESTROY (1966)
aka Die Nibelungen, Teil 1: Siegfried
Article 1911 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-8-2006
Posting Date: 11-5-2006
Directed by Harold Reinl
Featuring Uwe Beyer, Rolf Henniger, Siegfried Wischnewski

Siegfried kills a dragon and bathes in its blood, making himself invincible. He seeks to marry the lovely Kriemhild, but the king will only allow it if he manages to help him marry the queen of Iceland, Brunhilde.

This, like the Fritz Lang silent version , is the first half of the Nibelungen story. The last time I had to deal with it was with SIGFRIDO , which, being undubbed and unsubtitled, gave me little to work with. I almost feared I’d undergo the same problem here, but it is dubbed into English (and subtitled in, I think, Russian). Though I don’t think it holds a candle to the Lang version, it’s not a bad movie, even if it doesn’t quite attain the grandeur towards which it aspires. What I most like about this version is that it includes certain plot turns that I failed to notice in the other versions; in particular, there’s a whole “sleeping beauty” plot element which goes a long ways towards establishing the relationship between Siegfried and Brunhilde, and helps to set up the motivations for the actions in the last part of the story. At first, I was afraid this version of the movie was going to exclude the fight with the dragon (as the event is brought up as something that occurred in the past), but that’s what flashbacks are for. All in all, this is a good version of the story.

I do have a question about the English title, though. “Whom the Gods wish to destroy” is traditionally followed by “they first make mad”, and, quite frankly, no one is “made mad” in this story. Maybe it refers to Kriemhilde, but that would be only in the second half of the story, which is not included here. Still, I suspect that it ended up with this title because it sounded good, and not because it made sense within the context of the story. Ah, well….

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