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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weimar cinema, 28 Feb 2011
This review is from: Hands of Orlac [DVD] [1924] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
A science-fiction, horror film typical of Weimar cinema. It has some of the characteristics of that era: the hero who has transplanted hands (reminds the infinity of crippled Germans returning from the front who at the end wore artificial members); the male who is pathetic, impotent, full of psychological problems; the female, on the contrary, who takes up the responsibilities of everyday' s life.
The direction of Wiene is very good, the scenography is minimal and the light critical and essential. This film has the atmosphere of an E. A. Poe's or E. T. A. Hoffmann' s story.
C. Veidt is great, very natural although he has his expressionistic moments. He really had a strange face that could change to something fiendish and evil (even when he laughed).
F. Kortner has the right face and plays the role of the blackmailer perfectly.
Unfortunately A. Sorina exaggerates and faints in most of her scenes.
The restoration of the film is mediocre. There 're lots of signs and stains in some scenes and the tears can only be guessed.
At first, I was afraid to purchase this DVD because it declares to be Region 1 NTSC. But fortunately I was able to see it without problems in my DVD player which plays only Region 2 PAL.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hands off!, 30 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Hands of Orlac [DVD] [1924] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
A young wife awaits the return of her famous pianist husband from a long hospital stay. Her excitement and longing for his love are palpable as she clock-watches in a flower-filled room. But when he does arrive, he announces that, not only will he not lay a hand on her, he never again can touch any other person. He is terrified of his own body, and the hands seem to be changing his very nature. His musical talent is gone, the hands of an executed murderer he believes he had grafted on cannot now create music. So it's kind of psychological: a study of a mind and body at war with each other. Veidt gives us terror, fear, anguish, shock, shattered nobility, the mute piano: nothing is held back. The ostensible cause of this catastrophe is a train crash, which is staged not for spectacle and the gung-ho excitement of just smashing stuff up, and but so that we can see other things behind it. Darkness, stabbing lights, fear, confusion, splintered structures, flames and smoke, bodies stretchered out: this isn't just a train crash but the historical experience of war. It has to be amongst the most genuinely frightening filmic train disasters: even to witness it is terrifying.

The film has of course its fantasy plot dealing with a master criminal (scary Fritz Kortner) who tries to pin his own crimes on Orlac by convincing him that the hands done it. Hence there is an 'explanation' for what Orlac and his wife go through and hence some hope that the truth will out. What Orlac purportedly 'done' includes parricide. One of the film's most horrible premises is accepted without question; this is the caustic hatred and iron loathing that Orlac's father displays towards his son's plight. Not a penny from him; his son can go starve. Satisfying, someone slips a knife into the old monster. Some historical generational comments here?

Rescue and regeneration do come at last, thanks to the sexy maid whose attempted seduction scene with Orlac is a sizzler. But now he can touch his wife. It would have been nice to see him confidently belting out Chopin again on his big black coffin-like piano, but the film doesn't seem as interested in this element of artistic vocation as it is in restoring the character's sexual and social potency.

An enthralling and emotional experience, though the image is flecky and not as clear as one would have hoped in an ideal world, but we are lucky to have these stunning performances at all I suppose. That's the only reason for four stars instead of five.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only., 31 July 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hands of Orlac [DVD] [1924] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Chilling.

Brilliant surgeon Dr. Gogol is infatuated with Horror Theatre star Yvonne Orlac. After meeting her in person and realising that she only has eyes for her husband, the renowned pianist Stephen Orlac, he buys a life size mannequin of her and dreams of doing what Pygmalion did with Galatea. When Stephen is involved in an horrific train crash and has both his hands crushed beyond healing, Yvonne pleads with Gogol to help save his well being, he does, by amputating the crushed hands and grafting on the hands of a recently executed murderer, a murderer who's speciality was knives!

Mad Love is one of those amazingly old classics that is a hybrid of genre staples, at times it's surrealist and at others its enjoying its Grand Guginol pulse, whilst knowingly it's lacing its story with an uneasy comedic beat. Boasting camera work from Gregg Toland and Chester Lyons and directed by the impressive Karl Freund, this adaptation of Maurice Renard's novel is a chillingly memorable piece of work. Working off a plot that sees the bad Doctor driven by lustations rather than out and out insanity, Freund revels in slowly winding the coil until the spring that is Peter Lorre (Gogol) explodes (implodes), cloaking various scenes in telling shadows that themselves become integral to the plot. Peter Lorre is of course in his element, demented yet sympathetic, it's real hard to take your eyes away from his magnetic weirdness. Colin Clive as Stephen Orlac also puts in a performance of note, all twitchy nervousness and believable emotional torment, whilst Frances Drake more than adequately brings vulnerability to the centrifugal importance of Yvonne's emotional turmoil.

Weird and gorgeous, and incredibly well written, Mad Love holds up incredibly well today as a horror/romance film of vast influential worth, see it in the dark and marvel at its various moments of excellence. 8.5/10
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Hands of Orlac [DVD] [1924] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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