Wednesday, February 23, 2011

M - Movie Review

Last night I watched 'M', a classic rated number 33 in the top 100 movies that one much watch. The DVD was one of the many that Sagar had given me and I was keen to see this 1931 movie which was a murder mystery about a serial killer in Berlin, Germany. It was written ad directed by Fritz Lang and co-written by Lang's wife Thea von Harbou and was Fritz's first film with sound.The movie richly deserves its place in the top 100.

'M' begins with a bunch of children playing a game to a song made up on a serial murderer who will chop up the one who gets out. The middle class apartments where the children are playing are seized by apprehension about a serial killer who is luring young children and killing them off. One of the girls from the apartment, Elsie, has not yet returned from school. She is shown later being lured by a stranger's shadow that whistles a particular tune. The stranger appreciates the child's pretty ball, buys a balloon from a blind seller for her and lures her away. An agitated mother is shown looking out of the window of the tall apartment. The ball is shown bouncing until it comes to a stop, the balloon is shown entangled in electric lines. Their owner, the little Elsie has obviously lost control of her prized possessions.

The fresh murder brings tremendous pressure on the police force which combs every inch of the city. This makes the life of the underworld difficult and they decide to catch the killer themselves so the police pressure reduces on them. And thus begins an unlikely race to catch the killer between criminals and the police. The police use scientific methods to catch the psychopathic killer while the criminals decide to hire the beggars union to track every inch of the town. The killer is seen luring a child and the beggars track him down with one of them imprinting the letter M on the back of the killers coat for identification. The alerted killer is now on the run from both the criminals who got to him first and the police. The criminals track him down and he is identified by the blind beggar who hears him whistling his tune. The story takes another amazing twist as the underworld holds a court, complete with an advocate for the killer where both sides of the story are heard, where there is a case for killing him and another for handing him over to the police. What happens to the killer eventually is what the story is about. And more about how one must watch over their children.

'M' is amazing for its thought provoking story and the way it is shot. There is a lot of content, lot of thought and many viewpoints are shown convincingly. To do so in an era where one had no known techniques for inspiration and where one was making something on a pioneering bases is praiseworthy. The sense of responsibility, the role of the audience and the importance of the story being told well without any great effects or dramatic recourse makes 'M' a real classic.

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