At the end of Fritz Lang's 1924 silent movie Die Nibelungen: Siegfried, when Kriemhild enters the minster, she sees that Brunhild has commited suicide at the corpse of Siegfried, calmly remarking

Tell king Gunther my brother, the queen of Burgundy is dead!

The reasons for which I don't entirely understand. Now of course there are millions of differing versions of the Nibelung-legend and some in which Brunhild indeed kills herself after Siegfried's death. Yet, those are the versions where she shares some kind of loving bond with him (to which the poem, the version nearest to the movie, doesn't belong though), while in Lang's version she hadn't any feelings for him other than disdain and hatred (and was in fact the one urging Gunther to kill him). She is also depicted as an inherently strong character and remorse doesn't seem her trait, as also shown in her taunting of Gunther for making him betray his friend. So what was the reason for Brunhild to commit suicide right in front of Siegfried's layed out corpse?

1 Answer 1


I can't find any definitive reason for it, but this is my take:

Following Siegfried's death, Brunhild confesses that she in fact lied about Siegfried taking her virginity. Seeing him actually die stirs a sudden, unbearable sense of remorse and drives her to take her own life.

This appears to echo Shakespeare's Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth begins as the powerful, driving force behind Macbeth's descent into murder and madness - only for her to become remorseful and overcome with grief as the play reaches its conclusion, eventually killing herself.

This play has obviously been echoed countless times in history and whilst the characters of Siegfriend and Brunhild pre-date the play, it's possible it was an influence in this particular version of it.

As I said, nothing definitive appears to exist, but it appears overwhelming guilt is the most likely answer.

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