The Hands of Orlac

Watch The Hands of Orlac

  • NR
  • 1924
  • 1 hr 30 min
  • 7.0  (3,327)

The Hands of Orlac is a 1924 German silent film directed by Robert Wiene and starring Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina, and Fritz Strassny. It is based on the novel Les Mains d'Orlac by Maurice Renard. The film tells the story of a famous concert pianist, Paul Orlac (played by Veidt), whose hands are badly injured in a train accident. His wife Yvonne (played by Sorina) pays for a surgeon to perform a dangerous operation to transplant new hands onto Paul's arms.

However, after the operation, Paul begins to experience strange sensations in his hands and becomes convinced that they belonged to a murderer. He tries to distance himself from his wife, fearing that he may be compelled to commit murder as the original owner of the hands did. As his behavior becomes more erratic, he turns to a criminal psychiatrist, Doctor Serral (played by Strassny), for help.

The Hands of Orlac is a classic horror film with elements of thriller and drama mixed in. It explores themes of identity, morality, and the limits of medical science. It was one of the first films to feature a character experiencing a psychological transformation after receiving a transplant, more than 50 years ahead of its time.

The film's direction and cinematography are gripping, especially the expressionist lighting and camera angles used to create a sense of claustrophobia and impending danger. Conrad Veidt's performance as Paul Orlac is riveting, showcasing his range as an actor as he portrays a character who is simultaneously sympathetic and disturbing. He brings a sense of intensity and vulnerability to the role, making Paul Orlac one of the most memorable characters of early cinema.

Alexandra Sorina's portrayal of Yvonne is also notable, as she portrays a character who is both loving and fearful of her husband's growing instability. Her acting serves as a counterbalance to Veidt's, as she acts as a grounding force for the audience, bringing a sense of realism to the proceedings.

The Hands of Orlac was a box office success when it was first released in Germany in 1924. It was praised by critics for its innovative use of lighting and camera techniques, as well as for its strong performances. The film was also notable for its soundtrack, which was composed by British composer James Bernard and is one of the earliest examples of a contemporary original score being used in a silent film.

In conclusion, The Hands of Orlac is a must-see film for anyone interested in classic cinema, horror, or psychological thrillers. Its influence can be seen in countless films that followed, including Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill and David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers. Conrad Veidt's performance is a masterclass in acting, and the film's direction and cinematography are as effective today as they were nearly a century ago. It is a timeless classic that continues to captivate audiences to this day.

The Hands of Orlac is a 1924 horror movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0.

The Hands of Orlac
Where to Watch The Hands of Orlac
The Hands of Orlac is available to watch free on Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent The Hands of Orlac for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 30 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (3,327)