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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2012
Convention has it, that by the mid to late 20's, silent cinema had reached its zenith in storytelling style and artistry. Then sound came along, and overnight, movies became stagebound, static, with none of the flowing camera movements, and actors who had to stand or sit conveniently next to a vase of daffodils or a bush, wherein lay the microphone.. it arguably took decades for Hollywood to rediscover its style, once it found its voice. Compare that version of history to what was happening in Germany - or at least with Fritz Lang, who had demonstrated himself an artist of the silent screen, with his classics Dr Mabuse The Gambler, and of course Metropolis. And yet, here in only his second sound movie, the imaginative use of sound is both and surprising and enjoyable in its inventiveness.. the misdirection of the audience with sound, the inability to hear seemingly key conversations due to carefully constructed background noise, or indeed due to delicately woven silence, is seemingly the mark of a director who had mastered sound over a lifetime. Examples abound, but the hunt in the opening scenes, ending in a silent explosion, or the wonderful segue from ticking bomb to man tapping an egg in identical sound and rhythm, made this movie a treat for me.
But to revel in the sound is only one facet of this surprising movie. The plot, for example is for its time both complex and enigmatic. On one level it is about a hunt for a mastermind criminal. A mysterious figure is head of a network of counterfeiters, thieves and murderers, and his goal seems to be chaos, not profit. All the evidence points to Dr Mabuse, however he is in a mental asylum, secure and cut off from the world. And yet, somehow, he has extended his reach beyond mere body, to leave a legacy, a testament, if you will, after he is gone. It's not just a crime thriller then - there are genuine moments that enter a more mystical level. And then there are the politics.. the movies politics have long been debated.. was Lang really making a point, when he developed a maniacal leader, who could through ranting and persuasion by violence, use chaos and currency problems to overthrow the state? Certainly Goebbels seemed to think so, and the movie was banned by the Nazis, and Lang left for Europe.
And then of course there are those signature Lang visuals. I loved the moment for example, when we see a lady waiting in the gloom on a wonderful set of sweeping pure lines of art deco stairs, only for a light to come on, changing the image instantly. The scenes involving the spectre of Mabuse were groundbreaking effects for the time, and yet Lang knew exactly how to use them, without it dominating or distracting from the movie (although apparently later he regretted their inclusion). And Lang did know how to wring tension out of a scene through visuals as much as through the setup or the plot device. The stairway shootout, the room filling with water, the assassination in the car are all memorable set pieces.
This particular edition comes nicely restored, though not to the same level of perfection as Metropolis was restored, and a somewhat dry but nonetheless informative commentary, along with a nice little booklet which delves into the movie in surprising depth.
Of course this is a movie almost 80 years old, and so needless to say it has dated.. it's not often now that the speeding vehicles in a chase have to overtake a horse and cart. The acting styles certainly can seem overegged and histrionic compared to more modern style.. though Otto Wernicke's Kommissar Lohmann (The same character from Lang's previous movie, `M') is simply a wonderful creation. But despite the issues that come with age, thanks to Lang's unique talent, this is indeed a testament, a fitting tribute to remind us of the care and imagination that can go into making movies, without cgi, without huge budgets, and yet still create something both exciting and of artistic merit. Worth a shot, even if the thought of an octogenarian movie makes you nervous.
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on 29 July 2013
Amazing that UK restored that german movie and releasing it on Blu-Ray with GERMAN language track (with english subtitles). For me, as german speaking, I'm very happy that I had the chance to buy this movie on Blu-ray(DVD/Combo) in a very good quality. Ok, "M" was released in a better quality. BUT Picture and sound are really nice.

Info: Comissioner Lohmann - played by Otto Wernicke - does appear too in "M" (also by Fritz Lang) so you can see "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse" as a kind of Semi-Sequel of "M".

What makes "Das Testament..." interesting? Well of course its a continuing story of "Dr. Mabuse - Der Spieler/The Gambler" (from 1922) and got a 2nd sequel in 1960 with "The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse" (released in a Box in Germany with 5 more Mabuse movies).

But its more than a continuing story. It has a message: Each movie villain got words of Nazis and makes a bad view to the Nazis. Thats one reason why the movie was banned in 1933 and Fritz Lang left Germany. - so we should be happy that the movie survived in the archives -.

In this movie: you can see Theo Lingen who came famous later in 1960/70 with his german "Luemmel"-movies (a kind of american pie/high school musical movies) as Oberstudienrat Dr. Taft.

The Box contains a interesting Audio-Commentary and a 50 page booklet.

FAZIT: Entertaining and interesting for two reason.
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on 28 October 2012
As always with the Masters of Cinema series, one can expect quality cinema as promised in the best quality possible. With the video transfer as is:

MPEG-4 AVC Video 34999 kbps 1080p / 23.976 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1

the finest details are always present and look wonderful on a large screen.

As for the audio, both German and English are offered in stereo in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio.

English subtitles are available, as with all MoC titles.

The packaging is of superior quality as is the accompanying booklet of 50 pages including an interview with director Fritz Lang himself.

Let us hope to have the first part 'Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler' received the same flawless treatment.
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on 17 January 2013
I could write at length about the film and Lang's contributions to modern cinema but the previous reviewers have done a far more eloquent job below. I deduct one star from this release purely for the inadequate subtitling which often blends into the picture making it difficult even for a lifelong viewer of subtitled films to read at their accustomed speed. It may be a minor concern going in but if your enjoyment of the film depends on reading the translation you'll understand why it's disappointing to spend twenty pounds on what will eventually be relegated to the shelf.

For an example of how to truly restore a Lang film and employ the subtitles to maximum effect I suggest Universum's remastered copy of M available from Amazon.de in a 2 disc booklet format with outstanding clarity of picture and truly sublime titling
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on 26 November 2012
Excellent material, informative booklet, but first and foremost: A masterful piece of suspenseful filmmaking which still works today, and not just as a museum piece. Should appeal to anybody with the least interest in the early career of a master director: Fritz Lang.
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on 5 March 2016
This is quite a brilliant if chilling film. It deals largely with a criminal mastermind who directs his empire from within prison. This figure is so evil he seems to have almost occult powers. It may have provided inspiration for “The Silence of the Lambs”.

The whole thing is shot in a style which seems quite similar to German Expressionist painting.

At any rate, it isn’t surprising that the Nazi’s banned it, presumably because they found in it an uncomfortably prescient depiction of their own form of government.

I have always had the impression that Fritz Lang basically ceased to make masterpieces when he went to Hollywood. Would anyone like to comment on this?
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on 5 May 2015
Thank you Eureka! entertainment, for making film-watching such a pleasure, with your hard work and dedication to quality!
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on 11 June 2013
RECOMMEND A+++ Classic of it's genre, when German Cinema experimented with light & shade and was at its silent heights.
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on 26 August 2013
This is a cinema classic and has been added to my collection and in blue ray will be crisp and clear. \\\\There is a certain menace about the character but held in check so it is not overt. A film made when directors had no CGI to play with so had to rely on tight and clever use of what was available.
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on 15 February 2016
Perfect, Excellent blu-ray. Thanks.
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