Write descriptive essay about M movie 1931, write an essay of at least 500 words on M, 5 paragraph essay on M, definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
Fritz Lang
Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann as Frau Beckmann
Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann
Otto Wernicke as Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos as Inspector Groeber
Gustaf Gründgens as Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß as Franz, the burglar
Fritz Odemar as The cheater
Paul Kemp as Pickpocket with six watches
Theo Lingen as Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner as Beckert's defender
Georg John as Blind panhandler
Franz Stein as Minister
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur as Police chief
Storyline: In Germany, Hans Beckert is an unknown killer of girls. He whistles Edvard Grieg's 'In The Hall of the Mountain King', from the 'Peer Gynt' Suite I Op. 46 while attracting the little girls for death. The police force pressed by the Minister give its best effort trying unsuccessfully to arrest the serial killer. The organized crime has great losses due to the intense search and siege of the police and decides to chase the murderer, with the support of the beggars association. They catch Hans and briefly judge him.
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Fritz Lang's Masterpiece
Fritz Lang was one of those remarkable directors who not only gracefully transitioned from work on silent films into the world of talkies, but also continued to develop styles and techniques that would become mainstays in the years to come. The difference between M and one of his earlier silent films, such as Metropolis, is striking. While the latter compensated for technical limitations with heavy acting and visually appealing sets, the former was driven by comparatively rich dialogue and developed its plot in a way that might seem familiar and appealing even to modern audiences. Lang used the recent addition of a soundtrack to great effect leading up to the climax as the killer, played by Peter Lorre, came to be identified with a particular whistled tune. Lorre's desperate plea for clemency would have been difficult or impossible to capture using intertitles and hand gestures, but Lang made it one of the most powerful and memorable scenes in his first talkie. This new technology allowed Lang to develop an entire cast of characters whose machinations and quirks made this movie unforgettable.
"M" makes you create the violence in your own mind
This masterwork was the joint creation of a husband and wife team, Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, even though Lang's name is the only one featured up front. "M" is much more than just a film about capturing a pedophile murderer. In fact, you never see a murder. Most reviews overlook the clever structure of the script, which was credited to both Lang and von Harbou. Berlin is famous for its dry humor, which is sprinkled throughout the dialog despite the grim theme. Early on there's a scene in a bar in which a group of regulars discuss the latest murder until one man accuses another of possibly being the culprit. And there is a sequence of wry cuts which switch back and forth between a police conference and a gang conference as both separately discuss how to capture the child killer.

Peter Lorre was a stage actor before accepting this film role, and it shows at times. Actually, the film is almost stolen by the sly Otto Wernicke (Inspector Karl Lohmann), whose performance was so strong that Lang brought him back to play the same character in "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" (1933). Another outstanding performance was given by Gustav Gründgens (Schränker, the crime boss). The large cast was matched to the top talents. The cutting is marvelous, as is the camera work. But be careful to avoid the washed-out copies that were sold before the restored version (2004). The English subtitles were clear without interfering with the images, and the sound was very good (by 1931 standards).
Any film noir should kneel before this film
Years before David Fincher was even born and about a decade before the genre of ''film noir'' was officially ''invented'' Fritz Lang made a movie about the manhunt of a child killer. A film that was approached with criticism then and it's discussed even today from people for it's harsh theme.What makes this movie amazing is first of all Lang's amazing directing and especially his sound design. Being his first sound film Lang handles sound so good so he puts you instantly into the feeling of this movie. With a lot of influence from the silent era which he uses it to built thrill and atmosphere he uses music in the form of whistle but also excessive sounds in a time where sound in film was not yet fully accepted by the people. And he wins his bet. Almost 90 years later this movie doesn't feel old at all. Maybe it's the directing, maybe the theme which is dealing with (murder and it's punishment) or maybe even because of the amazing acting from it's actors especially by Peter Lorre a by then well known comical actor. ''M'' is not the cleverest movie ever made. In fact is a little bit goofy in some parts (for example when the killer is marked with the letter ''M'' and he is pursued by the beggars he doesn't get rid off the marked coat. And the fact that he was acknowledged by a blind man near the end of the film is almost funny). But it's an amazing movie if you consider the way and the time that it was created and also the message that it wants to pass. Is it really a movie that glorifies murder or a film that wants to say that even the most hideous ''animals'' can have a second chance in the name of the law. Whatever anyone understands from this doesn't change the fact that Fritz Lang's first speaking film is a masterpiece of film making way better than most of the noir film that followed after it.
As relevant today as when it was made
This film works on many different levels.

Firstly, its a cracking horror film/thriller about a child murderer on the loose in the Berlin of 1931. Lang's use of framing and lighting is a revelation and would prove highly influential in the wider medium of film.

The film is also an amazing snapshot of Germany at the time, post World War I. A broken down society that is in need of repair with its people looking to different authority figures for a solution.

Finally, the film has many things to say about crime and punishment. But it also has a lot to say about justice. The killers crimes are abhorrent but there are no crimes that don't warrant a fair trial. When the baying crowd with murder on its mind needs to satify its bloodlust, will it just be those who are guilty that are next in their sights? This film was made when the Nazi Party were starting to rise in popularity. Which makes this film even braver and brilliant.

An audacious, daring piece of art.
"M" for Masterpiece
Really, this an incredible film and lives up to its massive reputation impressively. Lang's "M" is a masterpiece on several levels. On a technical level, it is a brilliant example of German Expressionism and the photography is still as stark, crisp and evocative as anything you will see today. It is also a masterful portrait of a city gripped in fear, and Lang effectively captures mob hysteria and the character of the city and it's inhabitants like few others. And we have Peter Lorre's astonishing performance as the child killer, at once both a horrible monster, and a pathetic and pitiful creature. Often touted as one of the greatest films ever made, "M" certainly measures up to the hype.
A black and white gem where nothing is black and white
I was curious about the movie M because in Firesign Theater's "Further Adventures of Nick Danger", the Peter Lorre like Rocky Rococo says "This hasn't happened to me since M". When I realized that M was a 1930 black and white film in German, about a serial child murderer I was ready to fast forward to the the end just to see what happened to Peter Lorre. I was expecting a simplistic plot with the over-acting typical of the early talkies, and an unsympathetic evil Peter Lorre.

What I really like about M is that things are not good vs. evil, black and white. You end up with conflicting feelings about all the groups. The evil Peter Lorre is sadly mentally ill and you worry about him as he is being tracked like an animal. The good police are ineffective and doing evil by trampling on everyones rights and subsequently making everyone mad at the police. The evil gangsters, in reaction to the increased police activity hurting their businesses, are doing good by systematically tracking down the murderer.

I was very surprised at how modern M felt. It felt like a modern Hitchcock movie. You are given more information than any of the characters and then you worry about what the players will do as the discover what you already know. Peter Lorre was used perfectly in M. He has very little dialog until his speech at the end of the film. That makes him both more frightening and more sympathetic in the beginning and it makes his final speech more dramatic because you have been waiting through the entire movie to hear what he thinks. That works especially well for Peter Lorre because of either his limited acting range or his type-casting his voice immediately suggests someone evil and deranged. Keeping him quiet keeps us guessing about what is going on inside him.

Some of the reviews called this a scary movie, but I thought is was thought provoking and compelling. I could not stop watching it.
"...they never leave me. They're always there..."
There's a serial killer in Berlin who targets children. The police have been unable to catch him but their increased presence has made life more difficult for the criminal underworld. So the criminals band together to try and find the child killer themselves and issue their own brand of justice. Exceptional German film from the great Fritz Lang. His best sound film and second best film overall, behind only the silent sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis. The cast is terrific. Peter Lorre is amazing in this, which put him on the map. The direction, the cinematography, the angles, the lighting, the dark atmosphere all help to create this visually arresting film. It's a classic in every sense. Don't let its age or the subtitles turn you off from trying it. You're missing out on a truly great film if you do.
An amazing crime drama
Oddly enough, the only reason I watched this movie as fast as I did was because I found its short title to be eye catching while looking for different films to watch. I also like crime dramas, so I decided to watch this movie as I was expecting something Hitchcock-esque. However, I liked it all of Hitchcock's films that I've seen as it's not just a well-made crime drama, but a smart one.

A child murderer named Hans Beckert has just killed his third victim, Elsie Beckmann. With little evidence, the police decide to raid and question psychiatric patients with a history of violence towards children. In fear of the police ruining business, an underground boss named Schranker decided to assemble a group of crime lords to start their own manhunt.

On the surface, this movie seems like a simple, well-made crime drama. However, the movie has a deeper meaning concerning people fighting against a corrupt environment. The police force in the film were flawed as they staged raids with little to no evidence. They were the reason why the gang lords organized their own manhunt. That manhunt came with its own law force. However, that's not to say that what they did was moral, because they also created an unfair kangaroo court to try Hans Beckert. They were more concerned with killing him themselves rather than turning him over to the police. Despite this, however, the fact that the citizens were more successful than the police in catching the child murderer shows how faulty the actual police force was. Essentially, this film is about a corrupt "law force" forming in the midst of another one.

As many other critics have pointed out, Peter Lorre gave a magnificent performance. The reason his performance was so unsettling was how his character turned from a heartless killer to someone terrified by the thought of being killed. The final act where he begged for his life was chilling as we got to see another side of Beckert that we hadn't witnessed before. I don't believe that many other actors would've been able to make that scene work as well as he did. Even though Lorre didn't become truly spectacular until the 2nd half, I wouldn't describe his performance as bland, because he still sent chills down my spine when he would talk to the kids he planned on killing. Also, even his whistling was slightly unsettling. On top of Lorre's great performance, the final act was also powerful as Beckert's monologue for why he kills people is both haunting and thought provoking. The scene also shows the flaws with the court system the criminals established, showing that they aren't any better than the police force in the film.

This movie has one of the best openings I've ever seen in recent years. It does a great job putting us right in the middle of the action. It starts off with several kids chanting about a murderer in a courtyard, a scene which shows us how many of the children are oblivious to how dangerous the killer really is. The scene then shows one of the girls coming home when she comes across a wanted poster for the murderer. Suddenly, we witness one of the most unsettling and remarkable character introductions of all time as Beckert's shadow moves in front of the poster. It's a clever way of introducing us to the killer not just because of its creativity, but also because the film doesn't show Beckert's face right away. There are also a couple unsettling shots in the opening that work due to their subtlety such as Elsie's ball rolling out of the bushes and her balloon getting lost in a set of telephone wires.

The sound in this film was both impressive and revolutionary. Quite a few scenes stuck out due to their use of sound. An example can be found in the opening shot as we heard a girl talking before the film revealed its first shot. The technique of showing dialogue or sound before a film starts off is still used in movies today such as "Hunger", "The Tree of Life", and "Whiplash". However, a truly suspenseful moment was when Beckert pursued a young girl in the streets. The camera was only focused on her, but we heard Beckert's whistling in the background getting louder and louder. There were other instances in the film which made the camera feel alive. An example of this was how we heard the sounds of different objects before they would come into view. This can be seen in the car horns as we heard them before they entered the shot. It felt like the movie was actually taking place in real time. While this may seem like nothing today, it was really innovative back then. The sound design in the film was way ahead of its time.

In conclusion, this movie was a remarkable film. It's both a deep and well-made crime drama which impressed me for a number of reasons. It has a deeper meaning, great acting, a haunting 2nd half, and innovative sound design. A few people criticized the movie for trying to get you to sympathize with a child murderer. However, I don't think the movie is asking for sympathy as much as it is asking for understanding. Regardless, it's one of the best crime films I've ever seen.
The first sound masterpiece
Probably the first sound masterpiece. Though it's one of the first to use the new technology, it doesn't feel like it, as the camera is fluid and expressive and the sound effects are utilized perfectly and are even essential to the story. Lang's direction is superb, amping up the suspense and terror by using the cinematography, lighting, and sound together to create a very tense and distinctive atmosphere. Peter Lorre is fantastic in what is really the lead role of the film, making us feel sympathy and pity for a horrific child-murderer. The combination of German expressionism, film-noir tendencies, and social commentary that Lang injects into the film makes for a brilliant and gripping work. Simply a terrific film all-around.
Safecracker's mob
***User reviewer EThompsonUMD ("Influential and unforgettable masterpiece", EThompsonUMD from Massachusetts, 31 March 2006) has a great summary. Also, rxcdr has very interesting insights ("M a few thoughts", rxcdr, 28 March 2003).***

"M" (Fritz Lang, 1931) is master class. It is an expressionist, suspenseful study of individual vs. collective perversion. There are three storytelling techniques you might not see anywhere else: Scenes utterly without sound, no musical score and all violence withheld from view. (The latter point may be surprising to contemporary audiences accustomed to paying to witness modern kill-a-thons.) Lang always wanted the violence in his films to be implied. In "M", he winds down the extremely suspenseful opening and conveys the tragic death of young Elsie (Inge Landgut) without showing any part of her demise. Instead, he cuts to a familiar plastic ball bouncing on patchy-grass (without its owner) followed by an balloon (that resembles a phallus) floating near telephone lines. Lang's meaning is unmistakable: The serial child murderer (Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert) first raped and then killed her. The audience is aware of the magnitude of the crime but is not too emotionally taxed to miss what will follow.

There is a twist coming. Because the police (of an unnamed German city of 4.5 million) investigation is shown with painstaking detail, it seems as if they will remain the focus of the story. However, as the PD fail to make any progress in the case they begin to harass criminal elements (e.g. thieves and prostitutes) while restricting everyone's civil liberties. We are then introduced to a particular gang of hard-core bank robbers who are led by an imposing man named "Safecracker" (Gustaf Gründgens, who resembles the classic handsome SS man seen in other films.). To get the police off their backs, Safecracker chillingly insists to his associates that they must "exterminate" the child killer themselves. Safecracker's gang will eventually infiltrate a secure office building and apprehend Beckert in a way that resembles a coup d'etat.

There appear to be very obvious historical parallels with the psychopathic Safecracker (and the mob he is inciting) with the rising National Socialist party led by Adolf Hitler. ("M" was released only two years before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany). As the bank robbers and assorted thieves, prostitutes and beggars assume the climatic kangaroo court, Lang is depicting the horror of sadistic criminals assuming control of government. (BTW, it is believed that Lang did not author the final scene, which weakens the anti-authoritarian message. Also, it is worth noting that Fritz Lang and Peter Lorre were both considered anti-Fascist and fled Germany. Apparently, Joseph Goebbels himself warned Lang it was time to go.)

Without revealing too many details of the climatic scene, Beckert's pleading to the court (that he can't help himself around underage girls) is contrasted with the pitiless voices that are willingly becoming Safecracker's mob. The depiction of a society nearing its own collapse is being made with extraordinary sophistication. (Lorre is outstanding throughout, but especially at the finish.)

"M" has some strange moments, such as a 30-second, floor-level view (looking up) at a male policeman's crotch. Then there is the abundance of tobacco: Every male smokes cigars like chimneys; some use contraptions that are rather unsightly; while beggars eagerly organize their collections of butts recovered who-knows-where. (Let's not forget this was from 1931, so of course the scenes unfold with the pacing of that era.)

The terror-repression-Fascism path in "M" resonates with present-day events. Cinephiles are encouraged to bounce their plastic balls in the direction of the revival theater that is screening it to see Fritz Lang's masterpiece, "M".
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