- Actors: Carl de Vogt, Ressel Orla, Georg John, Lil Dagover, Paul Biensfeldt
- Directors: Fritz Lang
- Writers: Fritz Lang
- Producers: Erich Pommer
- Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Silent, NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: All RegionsAll Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: eOne Films
- Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
- Run Time: 130 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00000JMOP
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #160,713 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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The Spiders Part 1- The Golden Lake, Part 2- The Diamond Ship (1919)
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The Spiders by Fritz Lang is considered by many to be the real beginning of the golden age of the German silent film. An adventure story about an organized band of criminals who scheme to dominate the world, "The Spiders" was long considered a lost film until its three year reconstruction by film historians David and Kimberly Shepard using original German censorship records and Lang's own instructions for color tinting.
Fritz Lang's first major success as a director was with this exotic, globetrotting adventure. It's actually made up of two short silent features that were the first of a proposed quartet of movies about the adventures of high-society adventurer Kay Hoog (Carl de Vogt, whose gaunt, expressionless face resembles a younger William S. Hart) and his arch nemesis, a secret criminal organization known as the Spiders. Part 1 ("The Golden Lake") is a treasure hunt that takes both Kay and Spiders mastermind Lio Sha (Ressel Orla) to Peru, where they battle primitive Incas (who capture Lio for a human sacrifice) and each other for a fortune in hidden gold. Part 2 ("The Diamond Ship") is a longer and far more intricate conspiracy involving a hidden criminal underground beneath the streets of Chinatown, a legendary lost jewel known as the Buddha Head Diamond, and an ambitious plot to rule all of Asia. Full of secret passages, coded messages, treasure maps, double-crosses, and death-defying escapes, Lang's pulpy action-fantasy borrows from the wacky serials of Louis Feuillaude (notably the deliriously entertaining Les Vampires). But behind the wild plots, gorgeous sets, and driving, breakneck-paced direction lies a dark undercurrent of death and doom that transforms his gallant hero into a brooding, vengeful spirit. The prints are seriously scratched and worn in places but always watchable. They have been appropriately tinted, and Gaylord Carter's organ score is upbeat and exciting. --Sean Axmaker
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Exotic sets and designs from the Ethnological Museum of Hamburg, in cooperation with Heinrich Umlauff.
A man looking under the weather looks like he is escaping on an island. If his desperate attempt for help he sends a message written in blood, in a bottle in to the sea. As he tosses it he is dispatched by an Inca arrow.
The message comes into the possession of Kay Hoog (Carl de Vogt) rich sportsman and adventurer. The message tells of Inca gold in a remote location. Overhearing this is Lio Sha (Ressel Orla). That night the note is pilfered by a mysterious organization "The Spiders". Now the race is on to see whom gets the gold.
The journey will take us over many exotic lands and introduce us to sun loving, blood thirsty Incas. There may even be a chance for romance.
As with many serials the end may just be the beginning. See part two "The Diamond Ship".
In part two Kay Hoog who previously captured the secret of the Diamond Ship from the mysterious cabal "The spiders" has sworn revenge on Lio Sha for transgressions made in part one.
While the Spiders seek a diamond shaped while the head of Buddha for their own nefarious purposes. Kay seeks to spoil their plot. Again we get to go to exotic places leading to the Falkland Islands. Fortunately this time enough loose ends are sufficiently wrapped up so we do not have to wait for part three (which will never come.)
Thus, begins the Indiana Jones-like adventure which leads from Peru to a hidden city beneath San Francisco to a deadly cave in the Falkland Islands. "Spiders" from German director Fritz Lang, contains the first two parts of what was to be a 4-part serial. It's not the greatest of all adventure stories and has quite a few plot holes, but it's easy to see the influence it has on many of the adventure films of today. And, the acting is not bad, either.
The DVD transfers are scratchy but still very viewable. Not many extras, though.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The biggest knock against the old version was that the print was not in great shape. Shepard explained that we were lucky to have the film at all and that it took a lot of work to put it back together from materials found in Czech archives. The new version appears to use the same Czech materials but has the advantage of new restoration techniques developed in the last 10 years. Nevertheless those expecting a complete restoration are bound to be disappointed as compared to NOSFERATU, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA or the 2003 version of METROPOLIS, this still looks pretty rough. It is longer (173 minutes -vs- 137 minutes) and, as much as I love Gaylord Carter organ scores, the new Ben Model score will be more audience friendly as will the print improvement and new title cards.
For those unfamiliar with the scenario, it involves intrepid adventurer Kay Hoog (pronounced HOAG - Carl de Vogt) and his confrontations with the international criminal organization The Spiders headed up by the remarkably intense femme fatale Lio Sha (Ressel Orla). Separately they seek to recover Incan treasure and later a priceless diamond known as the "Buddha's Head". Murders, betrayals, escapes, exotic locales are all there in the mix along with Lang's eye for striking visual composition which is what separates THE SPIDERS from the serials of Feuillade. The sets are fabulous, the costumes elaborate, and the performances (most notably Ressel Orla's) are deliriously intense. This more complete version is a welcome addition to the Fritz Lang filmography just don't expect M or METROPOLIS or for it to look like it was shot yesterday.
I'm a fan of the early adventure pulps and of cliffhanger serials. So it was great to actually see Fritz Lang's early contribution towards these ends. The story has been gone over by several reviews and easily found online. I just want to urge viewers to not be put off on the fact that it is silent (with an original organ score that sometimes verges on cheesy Casio sounds, but tends to hold on to its dignity) because the great visuals Lang is famous for, and fun action adventure should be able to keep most audiences captivated.
If you are a fan of Gunga Din, Indiana Jones and the more exotic pulp adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs or Talbot Mundy, I can't imagine you will not find this to be a great treasure chest of iconic pulp and cliffhanger-type imagery.
The reason I don't give this five stars is solely based on the Image Entertainment release, because I think the price of this single DVD with no extras is exorbitant to say the least. Outside of the fact that this was a rare film to find and restore (which has nothing to do with Image themselves), the Criterion-esque price tag does not reflect any value-added properties as you would find on a Criterion release, and in fact is closer to something you'd find from Alpha Video, meaning extremely bare bones. At the very least, a commentary track by the Shepards or a film historian would have been interesting and added some extra value to justify $30 for a single disc.
It might be wishful thinking to get a better release anytime in the near future, so either do like me and take the hit to the wallet for the Image release from amazon or patiently search a less expensive means of finding it, like amazon's merchant-shops or other online auction sites, etc. Or if you don't mind VHS, that is easily found for under $5.