nrh’s review published on Letterboxd:
A children's adventure tale in which Fritz Lang strikes a chord of uncanny morbidity and sustains it for the duration. A film presided over by grotesque statues of the sinful past, where everybody is descending into graves or wells, which ends with a bleeding man sailing out towards the ocean. Most of the cast are corpses by the end.
Finally seeing this on a print reveals that this a truly peculiar and evocative color palette; the whole the shrouded in fog, excepting the upper-class dinner parties, which are almost violent in contrast.
Three images or impressions:
Viveca Lindfors, moments before her character's death, standing on the beach, just off center in the wide frame, hood pulled over her head like a shroud, the color dropped down to an almost tangibly bluish haze.
A storm that rushes through the night at the ruined manor in which young John Whitely has found himself; he runs down to the courtyard and cradles a statue's severed head in his hands, a moment so unconnected to the film's narrative motion that it sticks out like a question.
Directly following the last: a young woman appears in the manor like a ghost (it is revealed she appeared through a breach in the manor wall, a strange aside that is never again mentioned), she suggests they stand in the ruined summer house, where Whitely's mother lived and his fallen would-be-mentor tried to see her (and was mauled by the dogs of Whitely's family). She moves into the summer house and stands framed by the porch on the extreme right of the frame, after an expanse of brick wall a ruined statue stands at the extreme left, and its eyes are positioned in such a way that it seems to stare at her.