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M - 2 Disc Special Edition - (The Criterion Collection)
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Peter Lorre made film history with his startling performance as a psychotic murderer of children. Too elusive for the Berlin police, the killer is sought and marked by underworld criminals who are feeling the official fallout for his crimes. This riveting, 1931 German drama by Fritz Lang--an early talkie--unfolds against a breathtakingly expressionistic backdrop of shadows and clutter, an atmosphere of predestination that seems to be closing in on Lorre's terrified villain. M is an important piece of cinema's past along with a number of Lang's early German works, including Metropolis and Spies. (Lang eventually brought his influence directly to the American cinema in such films as Fury, They Clash by Night, and The Big Heat.) M shouldn't be missed. This original 111-minute version is a little different from what most people have seen in theaters. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Fritz Lang's 1933 groundbreaking classic M, with its haunting visuals and tense pacing, is a deserving entry in the Criterion Collection. Criterion's new DVD transfer includes one notable flaw, however: a white line that periodically appears on the top of the screen, which was caused by the optical printer during the creation of the original film elements. Lang himself was well aware of this flaw. Because cropping out the line would have removed 25 percent of the picture, Criterion and the German restoration team decided to leave it in. Though the line is a little distracting at times, M can now be viewed as Lang intended. Criterion's digital transfer nicely presents this visually dark and expressionistic piece of film history in its original 111-minute length and full-screen format. And what a visual treat to behold! --Rob Bracco --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This compelling study of a pedophilic serial killer and the public reaction to his odious crimes was decades ahead of its time in its treatment of psychological, political, and sociological themes. The first "talkie" from pioneering auteur Fritz Lang--probably better known to fans of classic cinema as the director and artistic force behind 1927's groundbreaking, trendsetting silent SF classic METROPOLIS--1931's M is more than just a crime thriller. It is actually a subtle comment on the sense of security that modern "civilized" people so blithely accept. Lang so effectively blurs the line separating institutions of law from crime syndicates that he leaves viewers questioning whether or not society's leaders are actually capable of keeping its citizens safe and secure. And indeed, Lang had good reason to pose such a question, as the Nazis were already on the rise in Germany at the time he was making M. The film barely veils Lang's disgust for the Germany of that period--a Germany that could birth and foster a philosophy of hatred like Nazism--since the Berlin he depicts is dark with dirt and grime and the people all seem to have bloated, gnarly faces that are twisted into perpetual scowls.Read more ›
Rating: Thumbs way up !
The movie, to me, is remarkable for how much terror and horror it can display without showing one single piece of violence. All the nasty stuff occurs off camera: a child buys a balloon, the child enters a forest with Lorre, and as the child's mother endlessly calls her name out a window overlooking a deserted street, we see the balloon rise skyward from the forest.
Absolutely amazing film - and trust me: you'll never hear the music of the Peer Gynt Suite again without thinking of this film.
It has been said that behind every crime story ever committed to film lies the shadow of M. That may well be true, though Lang (and others) were making crime dramas long before this (the first Dr. Mabuse movie was made nine years previous, for example). Still, there is a great deal here to warrant the speculation.
Loosely based on the story of Fritz Haarmann, the Werewolf of Dusseldorf (whose story was also the basis for the more recent Tenderness of the Wolves), M is the story of a child murderer, Franz Becker (the screen debut of the astonishing Peter Lorre), and the simultaneous attempts by the police and a crime syndicate to track him down. The suspense builds quickly (perhaps too quickly; the restored version, released in 2000, is almost twenty minutes shorter than Lang's original theatrical release) as Becker tries to evade both the law and the criminals while plying his trade.
The film might have been a simple crime thriller, above average but not really rising head and shoulders above the crowd (in the same way, for example, Hitchcock's The Thirty-Nine Steps is enjoyable, but it's not Psycho or North by Northwest) but for one thing: Peter Lorre. He almost sleepwalks through the first three-quarters of the film in an air of perfect menace, uttering perhaps three lines throughout. Then, in the final quarter, when pressed to the wall, he unleashes a stream of monologues so perfectly acted and inexpressibly brilliant that the viewer can do nothing but stand in awe of Lorre's power to both act like a man in fear of his life and engender the sympathies of film viewers everywhere at the same time, despite our knowledge of his guilt.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the original film noir technique. A clasdic on all levels.Published 3 months ago by Dorothy M McWhirter
Saw this years ago at a repertoire theatre, was really impressed with the story, acting and photography, so much better
now since it's alteration by criterion
In my view, most reviews of this film have it all wrong. A crime thriller it most certainly is not. There is no thrill to be had in the discovery of the criminal since his identity... Read morePublished on May 5 2011 by David M. Goldberg
If he did it could have been Fritz Lang & his seminal talkie, M, made in 1931 & released in 1933. Read morePublished on June 2 2004 by JOHN GODFREY
While watching this story unfold, I found myself on quite a rollercoaster ride of emotion. First, I hated Beckert (Peter Lorre's character) for luring innocent little girls to... Read morePublished on April 29 2004 by Bindy Sue Frønkünschtein
"M", Fritz Lang's ingenious story of the hunt for a child molester, is a remarkable snapshot of civilized German society at the moment predating its collapse. Read morePublished on April 12 2004 by anonymous
This review is for the Criterion Collection (1st edition) of the film.
This movie is Fritz Lang's first "talkie" and an excellent film about a serial child murderer. Read more
Criterion is taking this DVD out-of-print, and then releasing a new edition at the end of 2004, with a pristine transfer from newly restored film elements and a bunch of special... Read morePublished on March 21 2004
Maybe this shocked in its day, but it's terribly dated, with long dialogue scenes that could have been condensed way down. Read morePublished on March 16 2004
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