A 5-hour epic film in two parts about a bride who swears vengeance on the conspirators who killed her husband. That’s Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. It’s also an accurate description of Fritz Lang’s 1924 fantasy classic, Die Nibelungen, Part 1: Siegfrieds Tod (Siegfried’s Death), and Part 2: Kriemhilds Rache (Kriemhild’s Revenge).
Unlike Tarantino’s Bride, Lang’s Kriemhild (Margarete Schoen) doesn’t start out as a warrior woman. When we first meet her, she is the beautiful and demure, blonde-braided sister of the head “Nibelung,” King Gunther. Part 1 is dominated by the heroic Siegfried, slayer of dragons, to whom Kriemhild is betrothed. But the narrative arc that carries us through both parts of Lang’s epic is the evolution of Kriemhild from blushing bride to avenging goddess.