Fritz Lang's M (1931) is an undisputed classic of world cinema. Lang considered it his most lasting work. Peter Lorre's extraordinary performance as the childlike misfit Hans Beckert was one of the most striking of film debuts, and it made him an international star. Lang's vision of a city gripped with fear, haunted by surveillance and total mobillization, is still remarkably powerful today. And M resonates too in the serial-killer genre which is so prominent in contemporary cinema. M speaks to us as a timeless classic, but also as a Weimar film that has too often been isolated from its political and cultural context.
In this groundbreaking book, Anton Kaes reconnects M's much-studied formal brilliance to its significance as an event in 1931 Germany, recapturing the film's extraordinary social and symbolic energy. Interweaving close reading with cultural history, Kaes reconstitutes M as a crucial modernist artwork. In addition he analyzes Joseph Losey's 1951 film noir remake and, in an appendix, publishes for the first time M's missing scene.
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actor audience balloon seller Beckert Beckmann become beggars Berlin break-in Brecht called camera cuts censorship child murderer cinema close-up compulsion confession court criminal critics culture death penalty derer detective Diisseldorf Dimendberg editing Elsie Elsie's enters the frame Epic Theatre Ernst face film noir Film-Kurier film's Franz Gennat German film girl Haarmann Heinrich Hitler's Hollywood Inspector Lohmann Joseph Losey Kiirten kill Kurten's Lang's film letter look Lorre's Losey Losey's lynch mob Mabuse mass murder mental mirror mother movie murderer's Nazis Nebenzal newspaper off-screen Otto Wernicke Peer Gynt Peter Lorre physiognomy play police president political premiere pulp fiction radio recognise record remake reports role scene Schranker screen serial killer serial murder shadow shot shows silent film social sound film stage street surveillance suspect Thea von Harbou Threepenny Opera total mobilisation trauma trial underworld urban victim viewer voice Weimar Republic whistling