|Directed by: Fritz Lang|
Written by: Fritz Lang & his wife Thea von Harbou
Based on: a newspaper article by Egon Jacobson
Starring: Peter Lorre
Music by: Edvard Grieg
Cinematography by: Fritz Arno Wagner
Editing by: Paul Faulkenberg
Running time: 109 mins
I've read in some IMDb thread how utterly unrealistic this film is especially the lack of fear those children have. Talking & walking with "M". Taking candies from him. And how parents seem to be neglectful despite of the danger they are currently facing. Well, as a movie-goer, one must always remember three words: SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF. I mean, if you have trouble with this concept, I'm not sure you should be watching movies... or reading books.... or tv... or comics. Also, the first scene of the film shows us already how lightly these kids take the "M" situation. Even singing about it during playtime.
And parents have to work. If it's an ideal world, they will just be around their kids 24/7. But as what the film's first few scenes imply, when one mother was complaining about the kids singing the dreadful song, another mother said they should be grateful they can still hear their children (while they're doing chores). At least they know they're safe.
|this scene is both creepy and amazing.|
The poster scene is the perfect mix of innocence, malice & danger that's always present in the world we live in. The poster symbolizes the caution & awareness of our society to something bad or evil. The shadow literally is the shadow lurking waiting for its prey. And the bouncing ball of course symbolizes the innocent victims, the smearing of something good by something equally human - our evil side. That's one of my favorite shots. Like I said, this film is a gold mine & an inspiration to any directors and film buffs. I also love the way Lang intertwined the meeting between the police officials and the criminals and making us see how uncannily similar their ways are. That's awesome.
|Good thing this was pre-3D era -_-|
Possible spoilers ahead.
The ending cut abruptly as the judge (the real ones) was about to announce the verdict. Will Beckert be back in an asylum? Reclusion perpetua? Or will they sentence him to death? Unfortunately, we will never know. But we can assume.
The way the kangaroo court scene was handled, my opinion was that the real court sent Beckert to an asylum for rehabilitation. But then again, after hearing the last dialogue of the victim's mother implying that the verdict won't bring back their dead kids might mean that Beckert's death won't make their kids come back to life. I don't know... what do you think?
Mothers. Lang leaves us with the victims' mothers' speech, telling us that whatever the punishment is, it won't change the fact that their kids are dead. The film ends with a warning to all the parents that it's their responsibility to take care of their children and to be more vigilant.
Morality. While he has a point, if you think about it, really, there's something wrong with our society. The mothers could only do so much monitoring. Something has to be done. Explained so well in that kangaroo court scene, we as a society have a tendency of being so moralistic that sometimes we forget how to be realistic. When Beckert was apprehended by the criminals & beggars, he was "put into trial" with everybody in "court" knowing what the outcome will be - death penalty. Even the "lawyer" that was assigned to him has sealed Beckert's fate. This scene resonated to me the most because the criminals actually make sense! Sure, they steal, they lie, they're a bunch of lazy pigs who refuse to work an honest job and choose to do it the easy way (as Beckert have mentioned) but there's a boundary to what kind of evil they do. Child murder is disgusting. Beckert has to be eliminated. And they have a point. As the lead bad guy implied, in this society, what happens after the crimes were committed? The insanity plea? Then what? Rapists, murderers, crazy people either get sent to the asylum to be "rehabilitated" or sentenced to life imprisonment. Because it's the "moral thing" to do. And then they get pardoned or deemed fit to be back in society.... and then they kill again. So is that the moral thing to do, really? What about those innocent people that fall victim to these psychos? Let's face it, some people can't be cured. Recidivists shouldn't have a spot in this already sick world. And the criminals know that. I just love that scene really. At one point I felt they're some kind of vigilante, doing the dirty work that the police couldn't legally do, to better the world (though of course they have an ulterior motive. lol), but I liked it.
Murderer. Peter Lorre really doesn't have that much screen time (in fact, none of them really does) but each scene that he's in he surely captivates me. Those eyes, that expression, that awkward rat-like persona that he has, it's unforgettable for me. I really hated him so much I wanted to see some bloodbath. When he was "tried in court" I was waiting for the mob to kill him. But then that speech! Like his "lawyer" said (who suddenly was against death penalty), the fact that it's a compulsion, that Beckert couldn't avoid the urge means that he shouldn't be held accountable for his actions. That he shouldn't be in a criminal court because he needs to be treated by a doctor. I mean what can you really say to that? If you're a real judge, or a police officer, you really can't say "Ahh whatever man, you're crazy, we're gonna kill ya!" It's hard. But it's harder if you think about the future where the asylums & prisons are cramped to the max and we're using taxpayers' money to feed these criminals and after several years we pardon them and let them loose (back to society) and they repeat their offense, and we have a bunch of new victims. Think about it.
Mob. There's something striking to me when I saw this shot. It's so cool. But also, it made me think how people would love to crucify someone once he/she has been labeled as such or so. In this film, their outrage is understandable. But this is another aspect of humanity that could be taken to the extreme. Lang made an example of this issue. An innocent man was mobbed by an angry crowd just because someone mistook him for being the child murderer. He wasn't doing anything wrong, aside from him telling the time to a girl who asked. The point is, it won't matter whether the originator of something is right or wrong once a mob was spurred into action. My own interpretation of this picture is this: the guy marks his hand first before putting the mark on Beckert's coat. For me, it symbolizes that we as part of the society has the control (hence, a responsibility) when it comes to labelling people. Why don't we look at ourselves first before we point a finger at other people? There will always be a bad guy around us. The big bad wolf that eats kids. The evil witch that enjoys hexing innocent villagers. But we have to take responsibility in ensuring that the world we live in is a better place. It's easy to act disgusted when someone is mistreating a beggar, but are we really doing something to help this beggar? When we see them on the streets don't we usually turn our eyes to the other direction and pretend that they don't exist? Same thing with this film. It's easier to put that ugly label "M" on someone that's been proven guilty of some shameful act, but wouldn't it be easier if we prevent that from happening? If we, like the scene, put the same label in our hands first to remind ourselves that we have a duty to be vigilant. That we have to take part and be involved. Not only the mothers, not only the parents, but US.
MY RATING: 5/5
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