The Hands of Orlac is a film that requires a bit of patience from modern viewers. It's story line unfolds slowly. Most of what happens on screen is subtle and takes the audience deep into the emotional state of the main character. Furthermore, with the exception of the train scene, the sets are small and simple, done in a minimalist German Expressionistic style. Therefore, if you're the kind of horror movie fan that craves lots of blood and intense action, you will hate The Hands of Orlac. If your preference is more toward psychological thrillers, then this just might be your cup of tea.
The Hands of Orlac is directed by the brilliant German filmaker Rober Wiene who also gave us one of my all-time favorite silent horror films: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Considering the time period in which was filmed, Wiene was a master at his craft. His ability to edit a scene as well as capture deep human emotions with no words are a marvel to behold. His work is greatly aided by Conrad Veidt [The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari] who plays the main character. His performance is right up there with the best work of Lon Chaney Sr.
The basic plot is a simple one: A world famous concert pianist looses his hands in a train wreck. When we wakes up he learns that his new hands belonged to a recently executed murderer. The film then explores the theme of whether the heart rules the hands or the hands rule the heart.
Personally, I appreciate this film and enjoyed watching Wiene and Veidt do their thing. The copy I watched was a free download from Archive.org whose film quality is quite good and is a restored print with a new musical score attached to it. The score works well and the sound quality was very good. Take a chance on The Hands of Orlac. It might give you an appreciation for where the horror genre got its start.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.
Download a free copy of this film from Archive.org.