Saturday, March 16, 2013

1933 - THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE, is Fritz Lang's excellent thriller

Probably as close to perfection for a crime thriller and one of Fritz Lang's best films.  The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a sequel to Lang's massive silent film about the master criminal.  Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou pick up the Mabuse story ten years later with Dr. Mabuse now locked away in an insane asylum.  A new crime wave has started up supposedly headed by a "Dr. Mabuse."  It's up to Inspector Lohmann the same character in Lang's film M to figure out what is going on.

Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse was clearly a major influence on the James Bond films with a criminal mastermind attempting to wreak havoc on society.  Inspector Lohmann is also a larger than life hero trying to outwit Mabuse.  The movies have been stealing from this film for years

The action and the large scale factory fire set piece are filmed in that exciting technique Lang had mastered during his silent films.  The photography and staging are impressive for an early sound film.  Lang was a director who understood almost immediately how to adapt his technique to avoid static and stagy dialog scenes in his  early sound films.

In interviews,  Lang also stated that The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was a veiled reference to the rise of Nazism in Germany, a somewhat dubious claim.  However the film was banned by Joseph Goebbels so there may be some truth to this.

124 minutes.

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