M, 1931

M_poster.jpg

[Theatrical Release Poster]

M is one of the leading pioneers of sound-films. Sound and dialogue was used heavily to tell a narrative story to an audience. Director Fritz Lang  played with the concept of sound in the film in new ways: having an unseen narrator, sounds that occur off-camera, sounds that motivate the actions of the actors, and moments of unnatural absolute silence prior to intense action sequences. The film is entirely in German, but can be subtitled for foreign audiences.

The film follows no single protagonist, but instead the actions of an antagonist that causes misery and pain among the crowd. The crowd as a whole acts as a protagonist with either people working together to do harm or good in response to the antagonist. When multiple children are violently murdered and the police have no leads, how are the people in the city supposed to have a peace of mind. Following hysteria and paranoia, a league of criminals decides to step up to ensure the safety of the town, and to ensure their good names are not associated with this true murderous criminal. It is the organization of beggars that finds the murdered, through the use of sound no less, and eventually captures him. The criminals place him on trial following his capture, and  are forcibly required to turn him over to the authorities.

This film has humorous elements despite its very dark story which was based off of the real life murders of Peter Kürten, The Vampire of Düsseldorf.

Despite being filmed over 85 years ago, this film is still relevant. It brings up issues of community responsibility, mass hysteria, personal responsibility, lack of trust in authority, and the reality that anyone ha the potential to be a monster.

 

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