“Close the curtains and turn out the lights…”






My review of Fritz Lang’s film ‘M’.


1} For a film that’s nigh on 80 years old, it’s amazing how well it withstands the test of time. The camera-work, the acting, the dialogue rarely come cross as dated or antiquated.

2} Peter Lorre is absolutely brilliant in the role of the killer. Especially when one considers the fact that he was a comedic actor before this performance. He embodies flawlessly and timelessly every facet the character he portrays should possess. He is (at appropriate moments) pitiable, tormented, terrifying, sympathetic, reprehensible and, most importantly/frighteningly – human.

3} Friedrich Gnass as Franz, the burglar, is perfect as well. Demonstrating the eternal quality in us all, at some point in our lives, that claims “I may be a scumbag – but I’m not THAT much of a scumbag” .

4} The supporting cast is utilized to its utmost ability. The proof by action that “the more things change the more they stay the same” permeates the film. How quickly, once children are involved, everyone rightly or – more often – wrongly finds common ground.

5} The use of shadow is so adept that one may need to rewind on occasion to truly grasp exactly what, and just how powerfully, the darkness implies.

6} The use of Grieg’s “In The Hall of The Mountain King” as a leitmotif is genius. Especially when one is familiar with its history, topic and musical composition.

7} The question it poses late in the film “Is one more or – in fact – less evil if one cannot truly control one’s behavior?” This is made all the more effective when one considers that self-admitted criminals are acting as judge, jury and executioner for another criminal. The implication of human hypocrisy should not be overlooked.

8} The fact that there is not a single drop of blood shown in a film about a child-murderer and other torturers give some scenes even more impact. The audience is left to fill in the gory details which, to me, make certain dramatic points all the more horrific.

9} An easily overlooked facet of the film is another observation it makes. That observation being “How much wickedness do we, as a society, find acceptable in daily life? Where do we or where should we draw the line?”

10} One of the film’s best moments is nothing more than Peter Lorre sitting in a café. Watch him VERY carefully as it reveals so very much. The scene, while extremely simple on the surface, couldn’t possibly be cut without ruining the film.

I was told that this is among the best 100 motion pictures of all time.

As far as I’m concerned:

It should be at the top.





2 Responses to ““Close the curtains and turn out the lights…””

  1. M is a classic, and it’s a shame people don’t watch “old” movies as much as they used to. Lorre is also excellent in a film version of Crime and Punishment. It’s use of shadow is also quite dramatic.

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