Friday, April 3, 2009

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

Fritz Lang, 1933, Germany (8.0*)
This is an amazing film for its era, also known as "Crimes of Dr. Mabuse". Those who had Poltergeist make the hair on their neck stand up will likely feel chills from this film as well. Master director Fritz Lang is more well-known for "M" (Peter Lorre as a child killer) and the SciFi classic "Metropolis" (he likes the "M" thing!), yet this film has more radical (ie, advanced) film techniques for the time, especially special effects of ghosts. The film is about a psychological study of a madman, Dr. Mabuse, in an asylum for 10 years, whose writings have progressed from rampant hallucination to lucid descriptions of perfect crimes.

This is all innocent until the crimes start being committed, exactly as Mabuse wrote them. A police detective is baffled and investigates the case, while the psychiatrist is obsessed with studying Mabuse. We see some incredible ghost effects, as an apparently "projected ghost" from the still living Dr.Mabuse talks to, and hands items to the living. This is an excellent early crime (and horror) film, of course, dated by today's standards, but should be seen by all film students, and fans of old crime movies. This film makes all the "critics all-time best" lists. In German with subtitles.

Note: known as "expressionism", these are films that show a character's inner torment as external visualizations in film. Lang hated the term but was its best practitioner.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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