Description

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
Fritz Lang’s Spiders is 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.

Film details:

THE SPIDERS (Die Spinnen)

Germany Colour-tinted 173 min.

Episode One: The Golden Sea
(Der Goldene See) 1919 69 min.

Episode Two: The Diamond Ship
(Das Brillantenshiff) 1920 104 min.

Written and directed by Fritz Lang

Photographed by Emil Schünemann
and Karl Freund

Art Direction: Hermann Warm, Otto Hunte,
and Carl Ludwig Kirmse

With Carl de Vogt, Ressel Orla, lil Dagover,
Georg John, and Rudolf Lettinger

Music composed and performed by Ben Model

Restoration supervisors:
Blazena Urgosíkova and Ingrid Tetková

Archival sources:
Cinématheque Royale de Belgigue and
Filmovych laboratorich Barrandov Praha

Licensed by Transit Film on behalf of the
Friendrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

Produced for video by Bret Wood.