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More influential than Hitchcock!,
This review is from: The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set [DVD]  (DVD)
For anyone interested in the history of film, this set is essential. Since silent days, Lang created the template for science fiction (Metropolis), spies (Spione), serial killers (M), film noir (You Only Live Once) and even renegade cops out for revenge (The Big Heat). To this day, filmakers still use the same character types, styles, motifs and plot devices devised by Lang all those years ago.
With Dr. Mabuse, he basically created the quintessential supervillain of 20th century fiction. Blofeld, The Joker, Darth Vader, Sauron, Dr. Doom, Hannibal Lecter any number of fictional dictators and gangsters - you name them, they probably owe a huge debt to Lang and his all-powerful Doctor. Not least in their uses of technology, political manipulation and 'magic' (hypnosis, 'mind tricks' etc.) for diabolical ends. I defy anyone to watch these films and not detect wholesale plot and character borrowings in The (overrated) Dark Knight (which also stole elements of Lang's 'M'), and James Bond seems to have built a whole franchise from them (especially the weakest of the three, 'Thousand Eyes').
More influential than Hitchcock? Well, Lang's influence in so many genres means that his methods haven't dated as much as the master of suspense. The stylistic gimmicks and cod-Freudianism that mar many a Hitchcock thriller are largely absent here. Lang was politically savvy enough to know that character is as much a product of the landscape (political, architectural, technological) as personal relationships. Lang's stylistic innovations are now so commonplace that they don't appear as kitsch as Hitch. In foregrounding the external factors at play, he arguably had a better grasp of the paranoia, surrealism and political horrors of the twentieth century than most of his Hollywood peers. All three deal with the key terrors of German political life - 'The Gambler' with the chaos of Weimar, 'The Testament' with the imminent mob manipulations and mega-crimes of Nazism, and 'Thousand Eyes' with cold war paranoia. Even if you tend to switch off at the pacing and acting of silent/early talkie films, you may be surprised at how modern these films seem today.