- Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King Directed by Uli Edel Produced by Rola Bauer
Written by Diane Duane
Starring Benno Fürmann
Max von Sydow
Music by Ilan Eshkeri Cinematography Elemer Ragalyi Editing by Roberto Silvi Distributed by Tandem Communications Running time Theatrical (U.K.):
Full Length Edition:
Country Germany Language German
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (also known as Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten) is a fantasy film and mini-series based on the Norse mythology story Völsungasaga and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, which tells the mythological story of Siegfried the Dragon-Slayer. Richard Wagner's music dramas Siegfried and Götterdämmerung are based on the same material.
It had a theatrical release in the United Kingdom in November 2004. The German language version, Die Nibelungen, was shown on the German television channel Sat.1 on November 29 and November 30, 2004. It was the highest-rated mini-series on German television that year. On December 23, 2005, Channel 4 showed the entire series in one evening under the title Sword of Xanten, describing it as a "megafeature". It was shown on the SciFi Channel on March 27, 2006, retitled Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King for the United States audience, and minus about one hour of material.
The film is set around the time when many Europeans had changed their religion from paganism to Christianity. The film is split into three parts, and comprises the story of Siegfried from childhood to his death.
The film opens with a young Siegfried awakening in the middle of an invasion of his parents' castle by Saxons. The castle is soon overrun and all are slain except for Siegfried, whose mother has sent him down the river. In the morning he is picked up by a blacksmith, Eyvind, who raises him under the name Erik. Twelve years later, Brunhild, the Queen of Iceland (still a pagan like Eyvind and Erik) follows her adviser's runes that lead her to where Erik lives. The runes foretell that a star will fall from the sky and from its smoke a man will appear who will defeat her. Brunhild initially has doubts as no one has ever beaten her in a fight before, thanks to her pagan belt. That night a meteor hits the earth near the smithy and despite Eyvind's warning, Erik goes to investigate. In the middle of the crater there are two rocks of a strange kind of metal. Wearing a cloak over her face, Brunhild arrives and Erik, believing she is a Saxon, attacks her. After a short battle he defeats her, and she instantly falls in love with him. After making love Erik promises to go to Iceland to meet Brunhild and they fall asleep. In the morning Erik wakes up alone after Brunhild has taken one of the rocks and left. Erik convinces Eyvind to let Erik go with him to Burgund (the kingdom of the Burgundians) and on their way down the river they see a town in flames.
Once in Burgund the hawk Harmillias, belonging to King Gunther's brother Giselher, lands on Erik's arm and there is a brief fight between Erik and some of the townspeople. Afterwards Eyvind presents his swords to Gunther, who reveals that the dragon Fafnir has awakened and is responsible for the burnt village. King Gunther and his best men, including army chief Hagen, leave to slay the dragon; Giselher befriends Erik and says that his sister Kriemhild is wanted by every man in the kingdom but she doesn't want any of them. Eyvind leaves Erik to use the rock from the meteor to make a sword.
Gunther returns injured with Hagen; all the other knights have been killed. Erik promises to Kriemhild that Gunther and his men will be avenged. In a fierce battle, Erik manages to slay Fafnir while receiving only a scratch on his arm. Seeing that Fafnir's blood has healed his scratch, Erik bathes in the blood, rendering his skin impenetrable. However, a leaf falls on his upper back, giving him one spot where he can be harmed.
Erik explores the cave and finds a vast hall filled with treasure. He finds a ring, the Ring of the Nibelung, and is then confronted by ghosts of immortal twilight beings, the Nibelung. They warn him that taking any of the treasure will bring the curse down on him but he does not listen and takes the ring and promises to come back for the rest. Outside he is attacked by an ex-Nibelung who is also Hagen's father Alberich, he soon defeats Alberich and takes his tarn-helm, an item that lets him take the shape of anyone else. Erik returns to Burgund with the dragon's head and shows it to the people and Gunther proclaims he is a hero which makes Hagen jealous.
That night, at a large party Eyvind meets a woman and they spend the night, Erik is also confronted by Kriemhild and tells her he is already in love with another woman (Brunhild). Meanwhile, the entire dragon's hoard is moved to the Burgund treasury and fills it near to overflowing. The Saxons suddenly decide to invade Burgund to take the gold and Erik rides with the army to confront the twin Saxon kings, the men who slew his father. During a short fight Erik remembers who he is, then he declares the kingdom to be split between himself and King Gunther. He sadly remembers his father's death, giving the two Saxons the choice to leave but they attack again and are slain.
It is also at this point that Eyvind (who tells Erik that he suspected his origin from the beginning) passes away from old age and Siegfried gives him a proper pagan funeral in his honor.
A raven lands on his arm that delivers a message to Brunhild that Erik is actually Siegfried of Xanten, and that he will visit her soon. Having overheard Kriemhild and Erik at the party, Hagen's father makes a potion that Kriemhild gives Erik that causes him to fall in love with her and forget Brunhild. A raven who would deliver this news to Brunhild is then shot down by Hagen.
Siegfried, having forgotten about Brunhild, asks to marry Kriemhild but Hagen reminds Gunther that he must marry before any of his siblings. Gunther reveals he is pining for Brunhild, but he is not the best fighter and she challenges all her suitors to single combat and no-one has beaten her yet. Gunther promises Siegfried that he may marry Kriemhild if he uses the tarn-helm to look like Gunther and defeat Brunhild; Siegfried accepts this offer. On the ship to Iceland Giselher has stowed away and after support from Siegfried, Gunther lets him accompany them to Iceland. Once they arrive Brunhild is immensely happy that Siegfried has returned to her but is shocked to see that he doesn't recognize her or is challenging her. She challenges Gunther to single combat with double bladed axes on the condition that if he loses it will cost him his life. He agrees partially because it will be Siegfried fighting, not him.
The fight starts and unbeknown to everyone else Giselher sees the two Gunthers and becomes suspicious but tells no one. Brunhild loses the fight after the two fall off a waterfall and Siegfried saves her. She reluctantly and sadly returns to Burgund and marries Gunther next to Siegfried and Kriemhild who are also marrying. Brunhild confronts Siegfried who (due to effects of the potion) claims he never loved her which deeply upsets her. She takes her anger out by first challenging Siegfried to combat which he purposely loses to take away any thoughts that it was him who defeated Brunhild, then Brunhild ties Gunther up and leaves him for the night greatly convinced she had been deceived. Gunther requests Siegfried use the tarn-helm again to get the belt away from Brunhild which he does. Giselher again sees two Gunthers and tells his girlfriend Lena what he saw. Siegfried returns to his bedroom to see Kriemhild waiting for him, she convinces him to explain what has happened and he does. The next day outside the church Kriemhild is stopped because she cannot enter before Brunhild, Brunhild arrives quickly afterwards and Kriemhild reveals to her that it was Siegfried who defeated her both in Iceland and in her bedroom. She proves it by showing Brunhild her belt around Kriemhild's waist. This drives Brunhild over the edge. Hagen kills Alberich after not returning the tarn-helm to him and then convinces Gunther to exile Siegfried to Xanten. Brunhild comes and demands that she have justice for the wrongs committed against her, she demands they kill Siegfried at the following day's hunt or she will kill herself. Siegfried confronts Kriemhild who breaks down after thinking about all she has done, Siegfried assures her that everything is all right, and that they are leaving to live in Xanten the next day after the hunt. The men leave for the hunt, where Gunther and Hagen plot to cause Siegfried's death, but for a long time they are unable to. Kriemhild confronts Brunhild again and returns her belt, Brunhild reveals her troubled state of mind is because of Siegfried forgetting about their love. Kriemhild confesses using the potion.
Brunhild realizes that it was not Siegfried's fault that he forgot her and that she has just sentenced him to death. On the hunt Hagen kills Siegfried by throwing a javelin through his weak spot (which Hagen found out about by eavesdropping on Siegfried and Gunther while going through a blood brother ritual). Siegfried remembers his love for Brunhild and says her name before death seizes him. His body is found by Giselher before they must go back to Burgund and it is wept over by Kriemhild. Gunther claims it was a Saxon ambush but she accuses him of murder by envy and guilt. She throws the Nibelung's ring onto the ground (Siegfried gave it to her for an engagement ring) and Gunther and Hagen fight over it to Gunther's death. Giselher then tries to kill Hagen but is easily overpowered. A vengeful Brunhild arrives and kills the men who allied themselves with Hagen using the belt that Kriemhild returned to her earlier. Brunhild beheads Hagen and disappears.
Kriemhild places the ring on Siegfried's hand as they give him a pagan funeral. Giselher wishes the Pagan gods would live again on his death but Lena tells him that the Pagan gods die with him. When the boat has burst into flames Brunhild appears from below Siegfried's alter and kills herself with his sword, she collapses on top of Siegfried's body and the boat sinks into the river where the treasure hoard is shown having been thrown into the river.
- Benno Fürmann - Erik/Siegfried of Xanten
- Kristanna Loken - Brunnhild
- Alicia Witt - Kriemhild
- Julian Sands - Hagen
- Samuel West - King Gunther
- Max von Sydow - Eyvind
- Robert Pattinson - Giselher
- Mavie Hörbiger - Lena
- Aletta Bezuidenhout - Hallbera
- Sean Higgs - Alberich
- Götz Otto - King Thorkwin of Saxony
- Ralf Möller - King Thorkilt of Saxony
The soundtrack was released in the U.S. by Dancing Ferret Discs.
- "Drachengold" - E Nomine
- "Gone with the Wind" - Blackmore's Night
- "Somewhere Before" - The Dreamside
- "Drachentöter" - Schandmaul
- "Uthark Runa" - Therion
- "Prolog / Andro" - Faun
- "Owe War Sint Verswunden [Edit]" Estampie
- "Winterborn (Subway To Sally Edit)" The Crüxshadows
- "Unda" - Faun
- "Egodram!" - Das Ich
- "Shadow Of The Moon" - Blackmore's Night
- "Dulcissima (Cantus Buranus)" - Corvus Corax Hymnus
- "Forskaen" - The Dreamside
- "Score" - Schicksal
- "Eversleeping" - Xandria
- "Score" - Todesfinale
- "Remember Me [Kreimhild Edit]" - Qntal
- "Lebenslicht" - Barbi Schiller
- "Riding On The Rocks" - Katie Knight Adams
- Official sites
- "Sword of Xanten". Sony Pictures. http://www.sonypictures.co.uk/movies/swordofxanten/index.html.
- "Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King". SciFi Channel. http://www.scifi.com/darkkingdom/.
- "Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King". Dancing Ferret. http://dancing-ferret.com/darkkingdom/. US Trailer and Soundtrack info
- "Sword Of Xanten (Das Nibelungenlied)". BBC Gloucestershire. http://www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire/films/reviews/n_s/sword_of_xanten.shtml. BBC Review
- Charles McGrath (March 27, 2006). "Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King". New York Times review. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/27/arts/television/27mcgr.html?_r=3&pagew&oref=slogin&oref=slogin.
Directorial works of Uli Edel Theatrical films Television
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