21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M, 1931, 2003 Eureka video 2 disk edition - Disturbing yet compelling viewing
Fritz Lang, probably better known for the masterful `Metropolis', is responsible for this rather disturbing and thought provoking study of a serial child killer in mid war Germany. The story has been compellingly constructed by a master craftsman. From the earliest scenes of a mother waiting for her child to come home, through the police hunt for the killer, then the...
Published on 21 Sep 2009 by Victor
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great film, appalling transfer to DVD
I recently bought this 'Redemption' DVD issue of Fritz Lang's 'M'. The film is one of all time greats of early cinema. The problem with this DVD issue is the transfer. The transfer quality is very poor and inconsistent and worst of all the white substitles are virtually unreadable for great sections of the film, being seen (or not, being more to the point) on a white...
Published on 9 Mar 2011 by AD
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M, 1931, 2003 Eureka video 2 disk edition - Disturbing yet compelling viewing,
Fritz Lang, probably better known for the masterful `Metropolis', is responsible for this rather disturbing and thought provoking study of a serial child killer in mid war Germany. The story has been compellingly constructed by a master craftsman. From the earliest scenes of a mother waiting for her child to come home, through the police hunt for the killer, then the trial at the end, with Peter Lorre's defence, this is gripping stuff.
The story centres around Peter Lorre as the disturbed and disturbing killer. I was more familiar with his later, more comedic roles in America, and was totally blown away by this incredible performance. His performance is perfectly nuanced, playing the frightened man to a tee.
The story is shown in a series of set pieces. The film starts with images of a child playing in a street, and her mother waiting for her to come home. The child never arrives, and the scenes of Mother waiting in her flat with dinner on the table, and eventually receiving the news are emotionally charged. There is hysteria in Berlin, and a police search for the killer. The police procedures are shown in amazing forensic detail, and are totally gripping. The action shifts to the criminal underworld, who are being hurt by the police intrusion into their activities during their hunt for the killer. They decide to take their own action, tracking down the killer in a series of totally gripping scenes, then comes the films masterstroke - the criminals put Lorre on trial and he is forced to defend himself in front of the `court'. His defence is brilliant, his explanation for his crimes utterly disturbing - we are left feeling that we have been given insight into the mind of a real murderer. Then, finally, Lorre ends up on trial in front of a real court, and we are left devastated at the end with the Mother's reaction to the sentence handed down.
I've never been so gripped or disturbed by a film. Supposedly based on the atrocities of Peter Kurten, the so called `Vampire of Dusseldorf' this is a fascinating study of the criminal mind. Lang did his research well, and has some genuine insights to offer here.
This is yet another superb presentation from Eureka. The film has been nicely restored, with several sections of previously missing film reconstituted. The film is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, and the picture is as clean and sharp as possible. There is a mono soundtrack in German, with English subtitles. There is a second disk with a series of nice documentaries about the making of and restoration of the film. A ten out of ten presentation for an eleven out of ten film.
Definitely recommended to fans of psychological thrillers and classic cinema.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1931) - blu-ray edition,
This review is from: M [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
Case Type - Slimmer U.S type case.
Disc - AVC, BD50, Region B locked.
Video - 1.19:1 aspect ratio in a 16:9 frame (black bars appear at the left and right of the screen). 1080p/24fps. Black and White.
Audio - Original German language. 2.0 dual mono DTS-HD Master Audio.
Subtitles - Optional English subtitles.
Commentary with German film scholars Anton Kaes and Eric Rentschler.
Commentary with film restoration expert Martin Koerber, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, historian Torsten Kaiser and excerpts from Bogdanovich's 1965 audio interviews with Fritz Lang.
20 minute interview with Fritz Lang (box says documentary, but its more of an interview).
Shorter 1932 U.K theatrical release version (in English language and upscaled to 1080p) - features alternate takes, and different actors.
48 page booklet.
Censorship? - No censorship or cuts have been made to the film on this disc. The BBFC have given the film a PG Certficate. The film contains disturbing subject matter and infrequent mild bad language. This is the longest version of the film (110 minutes) that has been available since the films premiere.
'M' is a superb thriller, and possibly Fritz Lang's finest film. Considering the time it was made it is quite disturbing, and i can imagine audiences in the early thirties were shocked when they saw this film in the cinema. Peter Lorre is excellent as the child killer and the films final moments are extremely powerful. The picture quality is easily one the best i've seen for a film this old. Plenty of grain and no digital tinkering as far as i know. The audio is equally as good (note: there are a few scenes that are completely silent - this was director Fritz Lang's intent). The commentaries are very informative, and so is the short but excellent Fritz Lang interview(He talks about Hitler wanting him to make films for the Nazi's and why he fled Germany to live and work in America). The booklet is also of high quality. The inclusion of the 1932 U.K cinema release version is a welcome one. It is dubbed in English and contains a few alternate scenes. The picture quality is no way near as good as the main feature but its worth a look if your a fan of this film.
The U.S Region A locked Criterion Collection edition contains a couple of addtional featurettes, a short film 'M le Maudit' inspired by Fritz Lang's M and also a stills gallery. It misses one of the commentaries from this U.K release and the Fritz Lang interview as well (although it does feature a different one). If you own a multi-region Blu-ray player then the U.S release may be the best one to get, however thats not to say the U.K edition is no good (far from it!)
A masterpiece of a film given a 1st class treatment for Blu-ray. Highly recommended.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Excellent Film,
M is Fritz Lang's true masterpiece, even outshining the more famous METROPOLIS. Finally a DVD has come along that does it considerably more justice than Peter Lorre, starring as Hans Beckert, seems to be getting in the films famous climactic scenes.
Inge Landgut, as Elsie Beckmann, Beckerts victim at the start of the film is an excellent young actress, who portrays the naivety of youth superbly, and the way in which Lang "shows" her murder is handled with an understated style that makes it far more frightening than later, more explicit horror films.
The package put together by Eureka is spot on, the remastered film shining through in awesome quality, the cover grabbing you, making you want to see the film, and the documentaries and extras being of a remarkably consistent standard throughout.
A great film far ahead of it's time, and always worth watching.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "As long as we can hear them singing, at least we know they are still there.",
This review is from: M [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
NB - As is Amazon's wont, they have bundled together the reviews for various editions of this film (the Criterion and Masters of Cinema DVD and Blu-ray releases all have different extras). This review refers to the Eureka Blu-ray.
Surprisingly rarely revived on television or event cinematheques these days, making it the kind of film you have to seek out and buy if you want to see these days, M comes with such a legendary reputation that it just seems to invite disappointment. Yet more than eight decades since it revived Fritz Lang's failing career after the twin failures of Metropolis and Woman in the Moon and making Peter Lorre's name as the pathetic child murderer hunted by an entire city, it's still both a remarkably gripping and powerful movie that leaves a lasting impression and a surprisingly exhilarating and at times breathless thriller that never lets its dark subject matter batter the film down or turn it into a sermon.
With the remarkable visual sense that Lang's American films were never really able to duplicate as his work became gradually smoothed away into polished studio system product, it's a surprisingly energetic film as it crams a whole city into its 110-minute running time (it was originally 117 minutes, but seven - dealing with attention-seekers confessing to the murder - are still missing). There's a fascinating use of both sound and sequences of uncomfortable and prolonged total silence that's even uncannily devoid of the usual `room noise,' creating a unique atmosphere that's surprisingly disorientating (the music and effects that were added for these mute scenes for later reissues have been removed for the Blu-ray). The contrast between the panic of searching the office building for the hiding murderer and the stillness of the silent shots of the chaos they leave in their wake is particularly striking. But it's not just a case of Lang demonstrating his mastery of technique - you can believe these people are flesh and blood even though most of them have little screen time. Despite the heavy subject matter it's not without a sense of humor either, be it a crook ringing up the speaking clock to set the time on his stolen watches or a detective's bluff about a `dead' watchmen cutting away to the hale and hearty victim swigging a pitcher of beer and tucking into a sausage
Structurally it's surprisingly ambitious: for much of the running time there is no main character - even Lorre is only briefly glimpsed in the first hour. Instead it paints a vivid picture of a city in fear, its camera veering from precise control to lengthy prowling as the film moves through all stratas of a society turning on itself as friends accuse each other, anonymous letters point the police in the wrong direction, tireless forensic work yields no viable clues and the underworld is put under such intolerable pressure by constant raids and identity checks that they resolve to catch the murderer themselves so they can get back to business as usual.
Crosscutting between the organized crime leaders and the police as the debate what measures to take to restore normality, the ebb and flow and tempo of both meetings almost identical, Lang spends much of the second half of the film showing the two as mirror images with similar methods, sentiments and morality. While the police raid dives and red light districts, the criminals raid an office block where the murderer is hiding - their leader even donning police uniform to do so - and hold their own trial. Meanwhile the police resort to deception to crack the case as the dividing line between them all but disappears.
It's not a flattering picture of either group - but then this is a picture that doesn't flatter any of its characters in what can be seen as a state of the nation piece in a nation on the brink of losing its sense of morality. Indeed, that split can be seen in the very cast and crew: Lang and Lorre would go into voluntary exile when Hitler came to power. Lang's wife supported the Party while one of the film's prominent co-stars, Gustaf Grundgens, would become the darling of the regime and the inspiration for Mephisto (which he didn't take kindly to, getting the book banned as libellous even though it was written by his own brother-in-law). His leather-jacketed criminal certainly displays the kind of ruthless pitiless efficiency the Gestapo would have admired. The Nazis themselves had more mixed feelings towards the film. He may have had the film banned in 1934 but Goebbels certainly admired the film's lack of human sentiment, implying that much of its box-office success in Germany may well have been from people reading the wrong things into it
Eureka's Blu-ray also includes a 20-minute German TV interview with Lang where he talks about his German films and recounts, at length, his debunked claims that Joseph Goebbels asked him to head the German National Socialist film industry and become propagandist in chief for the regime. But then Lang always was an unreliable source: he just as frequently claimed the film was not inspired by infamous child murderer Peter Kuerten, yet there's plenty of documentary evidence that he researched the case in detail and even consulted the detectives who tracked him down. Yet perhaps it's that determination to find a better story than the ones real life provides are part of why he was such a great filmmaker.
Aside from two scholarly audio commentaries and an impressive booklet featuring articles and old interviews with Lang and a script extract for the deleted scene, the only other extra is the English version of M (Eureka's previous two-disc DVD and Criterion's DVD and Region A-locked Blu-ray releases are much better endowed with supplements, though only Criterion's Blu-ray also includes the English version).
The English adaptation is cut by 25 minutes from the original German version and makes a few changes in the script, most notably stressing that Lorre's character is a foreigner ("probably a Russian"). Most of the cuts seeming to be to up the pace in the first half of the picture, although some of the underbelly of the city hits the cutting room floor, narrowing the scope of the film, and the `rules of engagement' between criminals and cops - the idea that getting killed in the act of committing or preventing a crime is an acceptable professional risk - is changed to a bit of spiel about criminals living `like gentlemen' on their ill-gotten gains. Most significant is a striking bit of visual shorthand where the letters on the `Murder Bureau' board become a succession of huge close-ups until the letter M fills the screen and an the alternate ending, replacing the final shot of the mothers of the dead children with one of children at play that was presumably part of the British reshoots.
These reshoots are surprisingly brief. Although a couple of roles are clumsily recast with English speaking actors in the phone call montage, for the most part the English version is dubbed, which is technically swell done but suffers from disastrous miscasting of very posh actors attempting to speak slang in received English pronunciation accents that is unintentionally comic: when awfully, awfully well spoken gels who've been to finishing school deliver lines like "Tayke your hand orf me, yew dirty rotten copper!" or frightfully decent-sounding beggars say things like "Aye should say so!" it sounds like one of Harry Enfield's Chalmondley-Warner sketches (at least Friedrich Gnab's unlucky burglar gets a more appropriate Scottish accent). Even Lorre is dubbed in his first appearance as a shadow but thankfully when he finally gets to speak at length, he genuinely gives his performance in English, albeit with different and slightly shorter dialogue. Lorre also shot these scenes again for a French version where he was dubbed, but Eureka's disc doesn't include any extracts from this.
Unfortunately Eureka's Blu-ray lets itself with that all-too-common problem with Blu-rays - ridiculously small subtitles that are rendered all the more difficult to read by not having enough of a drop shadow and often placed against a white background. They're not a problem on a 40inch screen, but anything less and you'll probably be leaning forward and squinting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "M" on BLU RAY - Check Which Region Code You're Buying...,
This review is from: Criterion Collection: M. [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (Blu-ray)
As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of the 1931 pre code-of-conduct killer classic “M” - starring the incomparable Peter Lorre. And the BLU RAY is available in a number of territories. But which issue to buy if you're a UK fan?
Unfortunately the uber-desirable USA Criterion release is REGION-A LOCKED although it doesn't say so on Amazon.
So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.
Luckily the “Masters Of Cinema” REGION B release uses the same restored elements and will play on UK machines.
So check you’re purchasing the right version before you buy the pricey Criterion release...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Hall of the Mountain King,
This review is from: M [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] (DVD)
No introductions needed surely for M, Fritz Lang's most celebrated masterpiece. Made in 1931, it seems as modern today as it must have been the day it was released and remains a thrilling experience. Analyzed to death by social scientists, exhausted over frame by frame by university film academics, x-rayed to infinity by amateur (and professional) psychoanalysts, both Jungian and Freudian, and ripped apart by structuralists, there is something for everyone in this extraordinary text. As Tom Gunning has observed in his excellent book (The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity), no one critic can really get to the bottom of all M represents or means, so radical is it's range, so penetrating into the human condition are its insights. But let me try to summarize a few of the reasons why M should be in every serious film collection.
First of all surely must be the film's unique narrative structure. There is no main character in the conventional sense of the term. The film may be all about the serial child killer, Hans Beckert (an astounding performance by Peter Lorre), but he barely appears, let alone speaks until the film's last 15 minutes. He is represented by his absence more than anything else. If you see M as a police procedural then the chief detective, Karl Lohmann (Otto Wernicke) could be seen as the main character, but he isn't introduced until 20 minutes in and doesn't appear at all in the film's concluding kangaroo court. Perhaps it's Der Schranker (Gustaf Grundgens), the head of the underground who organizes Beckert's capture and trial, but again he isn't introduced until late. If anything he is Lohmann's doppelganger, Lang taking great pains in the film to parallel both sides of the law in their hunt for Beckert. No, the main character of the film isn't a person. Instead Lang makes the 'main character' the city of Berlin itself together with the effect Beckert's crimes has on the city's populace. The film's opening few shots, starting with the opening 'gong' of a clock and the children playing their sadistic 'counting out' game (continuing the clock theme), going through Frau Beckmann's reactions to the fact that her daughter, Elsie is late coming home, inter-cutting with scenes of her daughter leaving school to be picked up by a shadow, and then closing with her murder (a ball rolling out of a bush, the balloon bought from a blind street vendor by Beckert for the girl, now entangled in electric wires), all show Lang constantly forcing us to focus us on what lies outside the camera frame (the city), rather than what lies within it.
If the main character of the film is Berlin and its denizens then the main subject is the effect of Beckert's reign of terror, most notably the process by which the killer is trapped and condemned. The film is structured accordingly. Lang's relentless depiction of this process has an obsessiveness which drives the narrative mercilessly forward with no thought at all given to conventional notions of characterization. No film made before or since concentrates so hard on making one shot lead into the next with such inexorable logic. The balloon caught in the wires implies the news has already been transmitted by technology. This leads to the next scene of 'extra' newspapers being distributed on the street, to people reading about the murder on a wall, and to the deep feelings of paranoia that this inspires in everyone. The bad news doesn't unite the people against the murderer. Instead, it divides them and makes them accuse each other in a frenzy to find the beast, the Murderer Among Us (Morder unter uns - the film's original title). Accusations lead to counter-accusations, which lead to pressure on police to try harder to find the murderer, which leads to the criminal underworld being unsettled by the unwanted over-attention given them by the investigation, which leads to the underground deciding to find the murderer themselves, which leads to...and so on, down and down. The relentless logic and inherent mirroring and paralleling made between the 'official' investigation of the police and the 'unofficial' investigation of the criminal underworld is structured by Lang as a tightly coiled spiral which runs around and around, tighter and tighter, gradually roping Beckert in to his fate. Moreover, it is done by excluding him from the screen almost entirely, and it is of course his absence which looms over everyone and everything. It is when Beckert is revealed finally in the kangaroo court where Lang plays his ace card. For instead of a snarling, hideous monster deserving of the death penalty, Lang gives us a poor, frightened, shivering victim of persecution who mouths the (now standard) plea of insanity wherein he can't help doing what he does. He kills, but he has no control over that impulse. His 'defense lawyer' says Beckert is sick and that sick people should be taken to the doctor, not to the executioner. And so Lang achieves the miraculous here. He creates an atmosphere of terror where a whole city is shown to have been shaken by the actions of one monster of a man, but when the monster is revealed, he becomes the film's most sympathetic character. This reversal of audience sympathy is a masterstroke from Lang for suddenly we are in the area of social science. Which is the monster, the man or the society that creates and persecutes that man? That is the question Lang poses when he has Beckert address the camera directly. Are we with him, or against him?
Closely bedded into the relentless obsession of Lang and Thea Von Harbou's narrative structure (his wife's contribution to the script cannot be over-emphasized) is an extraordinarily complex mise-en-scene. Perhaps in no other film is the frame of any one image packed with so much information at any one time. Working closely with cameraman Fritz Arno Wagner Lang constantly alternates between overheads to huge close-ups to create a visual texture which resembles finally a huge net which closes in around Beckert. The numerous topographical shots take their cue from the scene where the police draw circles around the area of the Elsie Beckmann murder on a map of the city. For example, the overhead shot of Beckert running to and fro trying to elude his pursuers (following the realization that he has been identified) makes him resemble a cockroach around which a giant glass has been up-ended and against the sides of which he is bounced around as it closes in on him. He is trapped by the urban grid demarcated by the map of the city. In other words he is trapped by the city itself - the film's main character. These topographical shots alternate with huge close-ups (Beckert reflected in the mirror, Lohmann shot from a camera buried underneath his desk) which exaggerate and caricature. 'Caged' compositions abound, especially of Beckert trapped behind bars in the office attic, the burglar left by his mates climbing up out of a hole to find himself caged by the police, the scene where Beckert sees a potential victim in a shop window framed in a mirror which is then refracted back with Beckert himself in the frame, and then of course the vast vault of the distillery cellar used for the final scene. Lang takes as a basis for his mise-en-scene the work of the German Expressionist movement, especially Georges Grosz, Max Beckmann and Ludwig Kirchner to create a series of stunning images - the circle of kids playing in the apartment block courtyard shot from above, the shot of the 'empty despair' of Frau Beckmann looking down the staircase which leads to infinity, the Georges Grosz caricature of the men drinking beer which ends in one accusing another of murder, the overhead shot of the street just prior to the police raid and the crowd scenes which deliberately evoke Beckmann and Kirchner. Lang was aware in 1931 that expressionism was somehow old fashioned (his earlier silent films make even greater use of it) and so he also took on board the Neue Sachlichkeit (the New Objectivity) of the time as evinced by sequences where objects take on the meaning of emotions. The shot of Elsie's empty table place speaks volumes of absence and the effect it has on her mother. The horror of Elsie's death is portrayed by means of a ball and a balloon (innocence lost). Then there's the amazing shot after the police raid on the bar of the paraphernalia of criminality. Guns, knives, knuckle-dusters, wrenches, drills, screw-drivers, stolen jewelry, wallets, expensive furs and so on are all displayed in one shot by Lang with fastidious precision to show the passion for crime that these people possess. Most recognizably Langian of all is the use of shop windows where goods are laid out especially to attract and inspire consumer desire. It is in such windows that Beckert finds his victims (goods designed to satisfy his desire?). The new objectivity first introduced here in M marks a transition in Lang's work from his obsessive arranging of people (in Metropolis (1926) for example) to an obsessive arrangement of objects - something that dominates Lang's films here on in. Shop windows appear in almost every film after M.
Closely allied with Lang's meticulous mise-en-scene is the innovative sound design of the film. This was Lang's first sound film, but he uses it with consummate expertise - the use of over-lapping dialogue in the crowd scene where people are reading about the Beckmann murder on the wall show Orson Welles wasn't the first to use it in Citizen Kane (1941). The telephone conversation between the minister and the policeman is a wonderful example of how to convey information quickly and with maximum impact. As they talk the visuals move with supreme logic from one police method of investigation to another - I'm sure Lang remembered this when he made the first sequence of The Big Heat (1953) where he used the telephone to similar jaw-dropping effect. Then there are the sheer number of scenes in which Lang uses no sound at all - the lead-up to the police raid, the chase of Beckert where he is marked on his back with an 'M' and the frightening court scene where the poor victim begs for mercy as the majority bay for blood. There is no music in the film. The only tune comes from a whistled (by Lang himself) rendition of Grieg's 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' by Beckert. On one level this was the very first example in cinema where a character becomes identified by a little leitmotif to sinister effect - something which has become commonplace in films ever since. On a deeper level Lang alludes to the original Ibsen play where the troll king asks Peer Gynt, "What is the difference between a troll and a man?". The Old Man of the Mountain later answers "Out there, where sky shines, humans say: 'To thyself be true'. In here trolls say: 'Be true to yourself and to hell with the world'". This of course takes us into the heart of Beckert, a man split in two (he is first introduced as two by way of mirrors) whose ego has no control over his troll-like id when turned-on sexually.
There are so many levels on which we can approach M. One important strand must be its very contemporaneity. Inspired initially by a newspaper article by Egon Jacobson, the film seems to leap out of the 1931 newspapers reporting real mass murderers like Harrmann, Grossmann, Denke, and most notoriously of all Peter Kurten, the Dusseldorf monster. Kurten was important for the film as not only were memories of him recent among Germans, but elements where lifted literally from the case. Kurten was apprehended with the help of members of the criminal underground, and the character of Lohmann is based on one of the detectives involved in the case. It is even alleged that Kurten was one of many child killers who Lang and Harbou interviewed when preparing the script. Then there's the film's analysis of the way the mass media insinuates itself within each of us, the film's use in penological debate and its investigations into basic metaphysics. And, of course we can't ignore the film's political dimension. Replete in sinister black mac, bowler hat and cane, Der Schranker looks every bit the Gestapo interrogator, especially of course in the final scene. He constantly recommends exterminating Beckert the way the Nazis later exterminated the mentally sick and of course the Jews. Is the 'M' on Beckert's back a precursor for the star of David later worn by Jews? Josef Goebbels certainly thought so as shown by his later use of M as propaganda by linking psychopathic behavior with the Jews, taking Peter Lorre's Jewishness in real life as a springboard for his foul assertions. The fact that Lang offers all this (and much more) with no pat answers of any kind shows what a masterpiece the film is. The only moral drawn in the film would be that of the mothers at the end, that mothers mustn't neglect their children. Beyond that, Lang leaves us free to draw our own conclusions. The ambiguity is fascinating. Goebbels thought the film the greatest argument for capital punishment he had ever seen! Lang himself later had people believe exactly the opposite. The truth is M can be interpreted any which way we like and to take one concrete interpretation over any other is to ignore the truly radical complexity of this stunning work of art.
If perfect cinema is defined as original narrative told with innovative pictures and sound then there isn't a more perfect example of the phenomenon than M. The film should be seen by everyone and this superb Masters of Cinema release makes it a mandatory purchase. The quality of the restored version is little short of stupendous with both sound and vision ultra-sharp. Included along with the usual informative booklet are two commentaries and also the whole of the British release of M where Peter Lorre acts in English. It is shorter than the restored release and the out-takes are very interesting in what they say about Lang's construction as it was meant. For example, several gongs accompany the credits at the beginning, not just the one 'gong' of fate present in the restoration. Also, the end is changed with the mothers gone and replaced by the kids continuing their game from the film's beginning. Finally, there is a 24 minute interview with Lang himself in which he shows himself to be a showman forever steeped in pushing myths about himself. As Patrick McGilligan has demonstrated (in his biography, Fritz Lang, the Nature of the Beast), both tales, first of the way Lang came to shoot M at an old Zeppelin hanger, and then second, how he left Germany overnight after being offered leadership of the German film Industry by Goebbels, are fictitious. These MoC releases do seem rather expensive and I have hesitated to buy some of them, but this release of M is worth every penny. See it and be astounded.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it just for the court of criminals,
Truly amazing, dealing with the theme of a child serial killer back in pre-Nazi Germany. I loved the courtroom scene, as the debate was really quite prodound when you think that 50% of the adult population went to the cinema every week. The callousness of motives of the police and criminals alike is striking. It is a shame that films of this intellectual quality are no longer made.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ancient Greek tragedy+horror movie,
This review is from: M [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a macabre story of a doomed person who is killing small children just because he can't stop himself. There the most magnificent( in my point of view) scenes where he is escaping after his current murder. The close-up shows the face of the cowering beast, wide open eyes full of terror and fear.Like in the ancient tragedy he knows that he is condemned and he is just waiting for his destiny and has nothing to do about that. The end of the story is so dubious that even 70 years later we still can't tell what was the purpose of the author(maybe this ambiguousness was his very purpose). The maniac is caught by the criminals who felt that he just spoilt their reputation in the eyes of the respectful burgers. THey commit the judgement over him and pose as a real Court. This scene is fairly considered to be one of the most horrible scenes ever shot in the cinema. The criminals judge the maniac in the touching harmony with the police. And from this point of view we feel almost confession towards this creature.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful classic film drama,
This review is from: M [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] (DVD)
I wondered if Fritz Lang's "M" might be too "historical" before I saw this DVD which restores the original print and includes several passages which had been omitted from earlier versions of the film. I should not have been worried. This movie is not a mere historical "classic", it is a powerfully dramatic and completely contemporary drama that raises issues of morality and justice which are wholly and entirely relevant now. Indeed no concessions need be made to the age of the film, either in terms of its appearance, the acting style or, as I've said, the content and significance of the work.
See it and wonder at its mastery.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When crime becomes prophecy,
The first talky by Fritz Lang in 1930-31. This great master of silent movies tries his hand on this talking long feature and succeeds in many ways. First the pictures are so beautiful, so well framed and lighted that the visual fascination Fritz Lang was a master of in the past is till there full and powerful. Second the actors are still acting as if they were voiceless, their body language being essential for the understanding of the action and the feelings. What's more long silent sequences give some density to the sound when it comes back and this sound is used in full expressivity, even in its imperfection as if it were the real sound we could hear in the street, muffled, discordant and with interferences from all around. Fritz Lang even manages not to have the typical sound of a sound stage though the whole film was shot in a studio, that sound stage sound so typical of so many American films of the 1930s. Then Fritz Lang deals with a subject that was just plain out in his time and yet he manages to do the job with such delicateness and tactfulness that it looks deeply human though dealing with the worst possible crime and criminal, and the board of censors of his time let it go through. But Fritz Lang manages to demonstrate how even that criminal will have to get a real defense, a real trial, justice in other words. Two visions of justice are thus contrasted: the justice that looks for some kind of vengeance, or at least a full retaliation, and the justice that is considering the real state of mind of the criminal and hence his responsibility. This explains well why the Nazis will ban the film later: it entirely condemns the Nazi expedient form of what they would have called justice which was always designating some kind of cleaning up of society, expurgating of the anti-social characters, be they political, sexual, criminal, religious or racial. And that's where the film today takes a new value. It becomes an allegory of what was to come. Hitler and the Nazis will be those who will authorize the underworld to take over and we must admit that they are more effective than the police in such situations and they don't wait for the judicial process to go through. The SS were the police, the court, the jury, the judge and the executioner, all of them in one body. In five minutes the mystery was solved and the criminal was eliminated, even if it was not a criminal but a Jew or a Communist, these facts being the worst crimes the Nazis could identify, crimes deserving immediate death. That's this visionary aspect of the film that is disquieting. Did the Germans know what was coming? Probably. So why did they not stop it? That is THE question and a very difficult one at that. Historians will still be asking that question in a couple of centuries.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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M [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] by Fritz Lang (DVD - 2012)