Wednesday, August 29, 2012

M (1931, GERMANY)

Fritz Lang’s M is considered by many to be the greatest of movies to come out of Germany during the pre-Nazi era. It’s difficult for me to not look at the story of a serial child murderer without thinking how it foreshadows the ascension of the most prolific serial killer of the century.

The film works as a police procedural of sorts, though the audience knows who the killer is long before the authorities do. The great conflict in the film is the competition between the police trying to find the killer and those in the criminal underworld who want to find the murderer for their own reasons.

The “kangaroo court” scene where the child murder is put on trial by criminals is truly the highlight of the film.

And let us not forget Peter Lorre’s memorable defense of himself before this tribunal of criminals:

Do you all want to kill me?
You just want to wipe me out?
But you can’t murder me just like that!
I demand to be handed over to the police!
I demand to be brought before a real court of law!

M will most likely be playing soon at a college film class near you.


  1. I could not agree more. The ironic thing is that Lang was a humanist who described all the vices of pre-war Germany, yet he was the favourite director of Hitler, so he had to leave the country in a hurry.