Based on a deliciously dark tale by medical-horror novelist Maurice Renard, Orlac charts the strange descent into madness of a concert pianist (Conrad Veidt) whose hands are amputated after a train crash—and replaced with the hands of an executed murderer.
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You can't help wish there was a stylistic continuity to Dr. Caligary; but then again those big empty rooms with shadow playing tend to enhance the feeling of internal madness being built up in Orlac (something traceable to The Shinning).
Wiene (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) makes a dark and atmospheric tale out of 'Orlacs Hande' that would be surpassed by later sound versions. Conrad Veidt is quite good here but perhaps a little over emotive or over directed. The problem is the pacing and length which even by silent standards seems over baked and over long. Worth a watch but really nothing more than a wearied relic.
It was great. Really. Just... My poor, coddled attention span spent the whole time asking me why all the scenes had to be sooo interminably looong. Lucky for me, Guy Maddin made the way-more-fun version of this story in Cowards Bend the Knee. I'll leave this one to the patient folk.
Turns out Robert Wiene was more than a one-hit wonder! Orlac is a treat, and it shows that his use of outdoor locations and open spaces could be just as haunting and Expressionistic as the sets of Caligari. The fly in the ointment is the resolution, which is so tidy it nearly lets the air out of the whole thing. The brilliance of Caligari's ending is that it raised far more disturbing questions than it answered.
Those hands of Orlac, sure, they're really something; but the eyes of Alexandra Sorina! My God. A tour de force of trembling -- in passion, in terror, in deep and cutting chiaroscuro. Hers is a gaze that earns your surrender; before delivering you, of course, over to those murderous hands...
A concert pianist loses his hands in a terrible accident, only to have them surgically replaced with the hands of a recently executed murderer, that seem to have a mind their own in this German Expressionist classic. Hauntingly filmed, this chilling psychological thriller from the director of THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI is a finely crafted descent into madness with a great central performance by Conrad Veidt.
A perfect compliment to Caligari. Whereas in his earlier film Wiene transformed studio walls into a hall of mirrors, here he commands the real world and turns it into an alienating but all-too-real horrorshow. A work of art.