30 M

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Re: M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

#226 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:46 pm

domino harvey wrote:...I didn't say Lorre was bad in the film, I said David Wayne is superior in the remake and brings elements to his perf that I don't believe Lorre did or was capable of bringing
I know, I was just giving you some shit for the hot take.
Sloper wrote: Lang said that by not showing the murder, but only showing the ball rolling along and the balloon getting caught in the telegraph wires, he allowed the audience to imagine for themselves how horrible the killing must have been. But is that really the effect of those two famous shots? There are two later moments – when the official says ‘We all know in what state we find these children’, and when Beckert himself re-enacts the murders – that do invite us to think a bit more specifically about what Beckert has done, but I’ve always found the ball/balloon shots to be chilling in a very different way...

...To get back to the ball and the balloon in M, there’s a wryness about this method of communicating the fact that a child has been murdered – ‘I guess Elsie won’t be needing these toys anymore’ – that’s kind of shocking. But it tells us that the film will not itself be swept up in the storm of emotions that now engulfs Berlin, and that we shouldn’t be swept up either. We see the killing not in terms of the horrific, cruel act itself, but only in terms of observable facts: we infer that Elsie has been killed from the evidence made available to us, but we don’t actually know what happens to her. And even if the film were able to show us detailed notes on the killings, these acts would still be mysterious to us. If Lang is insisting that we each imagine our own personal version of this horror, he is also insisting that we are all at the mercy of our own subjective biases, that none of us can arrive at a reliable, rational judgement about Hans Beckert. Like the Mabuse films, M conjures up a vision of the modern world where there is a plethora of evidence, where everything is recorded and measured and communicated, where everything leaves a trace, but where chaos and madness remain the guiding principles. When you finally corner Mabuse, he turns out not to be a genius, but a madman; the monster who ‘terrorises 4.5 million people’ (as the Commissioner says in M) turns out to be paralysed by his own fears and his own demons.
Sloper, this is a perfect articulation of the awful uneasiness the film left me with about my own ability to accurately perceive and control my response to extreme events, especially when those events are put through someone else's filter for one purpose or another. The shot of the balloon and ball reminded me of how similar footage used by modern news broadcasts when reporting this type of thing wrings a cheap, universal emotional reaction out viewers that seems at odds with and grossly inadequate to communicate real human truths about an event this fundamentally offensive to a community's common humanity.

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