56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
The 'Ring' Cycle without Wagner!,
This review is from: Sword Of Xanten [DVD]  (DVD)As a huge follower of Wagner's 'Ring' operas and Norse myth in general, I was very excited to see this production of the magnificent 'Nibelunglied' - the story of course used by Wagner (and Tolkien too), first written down in the medieval period but telling the story of the great Norse hero Sigurd/Siegfried from roughly 1000 years earlier. This has to be the first serious filmed version since a couple of German features from the 60s, 'Siegfried von Xanten' & 'Kreimhild's Rache' which were very well done, but are now probably so rare it's not even funny. (You can still find Fritz Lang's silent 'Siegfried' from the 1920s if you're interested, however).
Anyway, on to the DVD. Mercifully the film takes itself pretty seriously, without pandering too much to the kind of juvenile dumbing-down a modern audience might expect. But it doesn't prevent younger viewers from enjoying the spectacle (though note the '12' rating), and there's plenty to keep the attention of adults too - even ones who know the story! If you don't know the story I shan't spoil it for you. But it has magic swords, a dragon, a stern heroine, an exceedingly brave hero, and a dark and tragic love story which continues to enthrall us down through the centuries. There's no histrionic acting, scenery-chewing performances or moments of daftness. The acting, scenery, effects, camerawork and soundtrack are uniformly excellent - if only we could see more 'fantasy' films made like this. It seems that it takes the Europeans to show Hollywood how to do it properly.
By the way, the soundtrack is available under the risible title 'Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King', which makes the film sound like a kiddies' animated feature! Buy the album anyway - it's an odd selection of instrumental pieces and folk/opera/metal, but if you're into bands like Therion, Nightwish, Evanessence, Skyclad and Rhapsody (which I am!) you'll get a kick out of the music.
This is more than fantasy - it's epic myth and legend!