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Classic Review: M (1931)

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I’ve been trying to get around to watching The Silence of the Lambs for a while now. Of course, I eventually saw “M” by Fritz Lang before the 1991 thriller. By going off of what I heard about “Silence”, director Jonathan Demme has plenty of due thanks to “M” director Lang. Touted as the first serial killer movie, and one of the first psychological thrillers, this ’31 classic seemed out of place happening in the 1930’s. This was when certain movies where called “talkies” instead of sound being a given.

Fritz Lang, who also directed the first sci-fi epic “Metropolis” was truly a visionary for the medium of film, and it shows in M. The plot deals with a man (Peter Lorre) who has terrorized a city with his string of murders (all being female children). The method of killing is unknown, as is why he is doing such things unclear. The entire town sort of falls apart in accusations, and any contact with a child is met with stares and murmurs. A group of the city’s criminal underbelly plot to catch the murderer in order to return things to their previous order. Both the police and the criminals both catch leads after a month of searching, with the criminals catching Lorre’s character.

What follows is a back and forth dialogue on capitol punishment between the court consisting of criminals (some of them murderers as well) and Lorre. I myself, kept changing on weather they should kill the monster right there or turn him over to the police. The entire ordeal was extremely thought provoking, more so than any other movie I’ve previously seen. Of course the movie ends with the haunting advice of the daughter-less mother, warning us to keep closer watch over our children.

You can see how much of a game changer this was for movies. There was the whistling of the murderer (prelude to Darth Vader’s theme, anyone?), the voiced-over narration (a major addition to the art form), and of course the amazing performance of who should be the villain (Heath Ledger’s Joker before Batman). Fritz Lang called it his favorite of his own films, and I can see why. Not only as a piece of cinema history, but as a great movie in general, I would recommend this movie.

Rating: A-

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3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Classic Review: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) « Weekday Matinee

  2. Pingback: Top Three: 1931 « Weekday Matinee

  3. Pingback: Posters: Minimalism Is The Way « Weekday Matinee

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