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Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) - Fritz Lang


The first thing that I noticed about Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse is that the cinematography is absolutely wunderbar. The story is immediately engaging and the acting is superb. This is my first viewing and I am incredibly happy with the movie being part of the Criterion Collection. The picture and sound are of the highest quality. I know my set up isn't exactly the silver screen but it looked fantastic. It almost looked as if Fritz Lang went into the future and shot the movie in the fifties. Everything is so crisp and clean. What a picture. 

It tells the story of Dr. Mabuse, who is incarcerated at a local insane asylum. While in the asylum he writes out thousands of pages of crime details. These details start to come true and our "hero" Inspector Lohmann begins to investigate, this takes him to some very dangerous individuals. The movie has crazy visions and ghosts. It is really scary during some parts and engaging during the others, to me it balances pretty well. It's a crime movie with supernatural elements to it. The suspense is perfect. Just the right amount. It is pretty lengthy but it doesn't drag. 

Everything about this movie is fantastic. Every character is so well written and rounded out. They each seem like a real person. Lang's previous film M had the same feel. These films feel like they are far superior to the drivel that is spilling out everywhere else. He never even lets go of his expressionist ways while paying equal attention to the sound in the movie. I say that with great admiration. I feel like this movie could be a sleeper hit at the box office today. I am not saying that this movie should be remade. It's far too perfect. It was a victim of timing though. It just had to come out when Hitler was in power and Joseph Goebbels squashed it. The film was banned in Germany. They thought that it would inspire anti-government protests. However, it was in wide release in Europe and did fairly well.

I highly recommend this movie to film buff's everywhere. Get your hands on a copy of this and hold on to it. It's a damn fine picture and Fritz Lang's best horror feature. Otto Wernicke does a great job as the inspector and Karl Meixner as the Detective. Watching them put the case together is really entertaining and interesting. They turn in some great performances. The movie has some amazing scenes that are just huge and tremendous. This was definitely the definition of a blockbuster for its day. I will say it again, what a picture. Go find it or watch the Spanish version below. It's not the same. I found it at Netflix.
  • Banned in Germany, the world premiere was held on April 21, 1933 in Budapest in its full original 124 minute version.
  • The film was not shown to the German public until August 24, 1951 when it was presented in an edited 111 minute version. 
  • Banned by Josef Goebbels, in 1933, for its subversive nature and the possibility that it might "incite people to anti-social behavior and terrorism against the State". 
Sorry it's in Spanish, it's all YouTube had

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