Wiene spent the early '20s trying to repeat his surprise success with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. This adaptation of Maurice Renard's celebrated novel finds him exploring another 'horrific' theme, but using his repertoire of Expressionist effects more coolly. His version of the story (about a concert pianist who loses his hands in a train crash, and has the hands of an executed murderer grafted on in their place) opts for a 'realistic' denouement rather than a 'fantastic' one, but it still manages to generate some potent shocks from its confrontation between the hero and villain. Its most enduring quality is Veidt's tormented performance as Orlac.
The Hands of Orlac
Cast and crew