There is still nothing more insipidly terrifying than the adbuction of children by an unseen hand. It seems that even in 1931, without the addition of mass media hysteria via the internet, it was still a prevalent dread in most hearts. In M, Fritz Lang’s dark, expressionist masterpiece, we join a community plagued by the predatory machinations of a child murderer, grotesquely performed by Peter Lorre.
Based on the real life serial killer, Peter Kurten, it still has the power to shock and disturb nearly eighty years on. The story of how, when persecuted for the crimes that they themselves abhor, the community’s criminal classes unite to bring the monster to justice by first discovering his identity, and them branding him with ‘M’ (for “Mörder”, meaning murderer in German). But instead of governmental justice, the criminals have ideas of their own…
Yes, it’s a German language film, subtitled, black and white, but don’t be put off. European expressionist film making at the beginning of the twentieth century was cinema at it’s purest. It influences movie making to this day, and inspired and instructed the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, who in turn influenced today’s directors.
I urge you to check out this film. You can find it here. Today’s generation do have a tendency to believe that black and white films are cuddly and safe.
Be prepared for a shock.
Past Film Club Choices: