Film Analysis

The 1931 film ‘M’ shot by director Fritz Lang of Germany utilizes a suspense based thriller in order to capture a serial killer terrorizing Germany. During the time that this film was produced there were many serial killers terrorizing Germany such as Haarmann, Grossmann, Kurten, Denke to name a few. The films conveys a sense of foreshadowing of what occurred during the time and a sense of hope towards the everyday man doing his part to help out in his community. With the use of matching, long shots and close ups with the feel of a nitty gritty city of gangsters, lawmen and killers this film was sure to inthrall the mind.

The main actor. Peter Lorre who portrays Hans Beckert whistles the sweet tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg as he nonchalantly walks down the street with his intended victim in hand. This film utilizes a voice over which is known as a leitmotif, Peter Lorre could not whistle himself and so the director. Fritz Lang did the whistling. The film was the first sound film directed by Lang and considered to be a masterpiece by many. The police seem helpless and unable to track down the menace while the street lords have assembled to find and prosecute. During the time period there was no precise way of catching someone unless there was some evidence which designated the person as the criminal or there were witnesses. The people felt a deep sense of dismay for without their assistance many crimes would have gone unsolved.

A constant during this film is reflections. During many walks, Peter Lorre stares at himself in shop windows or mirrors. With this Lang was able to capture a sense of disturbia. More provacatively the same point comes across during the final scene of the film in which Lorre is finally captured and brought to a warehouse to face his judgement by the mothers of the victims and the street lords. “It’s me, pursuing myself”; “ Who knows what it’s like to be me?”. These lines take a further delve into the disturbed psyche of this serial killer. The lighting, dark figures against light backgrounds with a sense of someone always lurking in the shadows brought in the audience.

With the beginning of the sound era this film was able to use whistling. The only background sound during the movie was the ominous whistling. The whistling foreshadowed the appearance of the killer letting the audience use their imagination to as where and or what he might be doing. The black and white color with gritty streets, alley ways and backgrounds also gave this film the extra bit of chaos it required to become a revolutionary film. Aside from setting substantial headway into forms of foreshadowing this film also must have helped with issues of the time where unity was becoming undone and moral needed to be boosted to show that there was a step in the right direction.

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