Monday, September 27, 2010


I gotta say, this movie is damn impressively made for 1931. It's also a lot darker than what you'd ever expect to see from the era. I guess maybe we can thank Germany for that. M is not without its flaws, but it's an interesting and important film that still manages to be enjoyable today. What's the most amazing thing about it though is how they portray what would normally be the pure incarnation of evil that terrorizes everyone else. Peter Lorre plays a serial killer of children, but in some ways he's actually the protagonist of the film. Like Dexter 75 years in advance. His crimes are treated like a compulsion he has no control over, and you unbelievably find yourself sympathizing him when he wants a real trial rather than having to face the actual people of the city he's been terrorizing. Good stuff.

He's not in enough of the movie to be a true main character, though. Lorre easily gives the best performance, but a lot of screen time is spent with other characters, both police and other criminals wary of a serial killer's effect on their business, who are trying to figure out how to find and stop him. Kind of a lot of the movie is built off of this, but unfortunately I thought these scenes tended to drag a lot as various supporting characters go on for a long time about all the things they know and don't know. Normally I prefer to see films as their director intended them, but in this case I think the pace could have benefited a lot from whatever soulless hacking a studio did when they originally released this in America. It does get better once Lorre's part expands after like half an hour or forty minutes, but it never stops being a bit long-winded. Still, a mostly intriguing story, and Fritz Lang's work behind the camera deserves recognition. There are several iconic moments and set ups, and some of the camera movies are almost criminally good for the era. Stuff that would still be impressive if pulled off correctly today. Despite a couple qualms, it's certainly something all real film fans should seek out.

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