M le Maudit: The greatest serial killer film of all time is available on Arte

M le Maudit: The greatest serial killer film of all time is available on Arte

Around the hunt for a child murderer, Fritz Lang drew a visionary portrait of a Germany under the yoke of Hitler. It is visible in its uncensored version in the second part of the evening, as well as on Arte.TV.

The image is iconic. Peter Lorre notices with his bulging eyes an “M” drawn in chalk on the shoulder of his jacket. This mark designates him as the foul beast that must be eliminated. M the Accursed by Fritz Lang (1931) is freely inspired by real events, those of a child murderer in Germany in the 1920s, nicknamed “ The Vampire of Düsseldorf “. It is the first talking film by the filmmaker, then one of the biggest stars of German silent cinema. (Metropolisit was him !)

Arte.tv now offers the 2011 version, the closest to the one initially wanted by Fritz Lang who had obviously seen his film “touchy”manipulated by the caudine forks of censorship.

The little girl, the mother and the murderer

The first sequences never changed. They are an unparalleled lesson in editing and dramatic tension. Fritz Lang simultaneously shows the actions of a stay-at-home mother who is waiting for her 7-year-old daughter Elsie to return from school and her journey home. The clock strikes the magical strokes that we immediately sense are fateful. It's time. The mother's smile conveys the joy of soon finding her daughter. In the street, Elsie hops on the road with her ball. A police officer ensures his safety. In the kitchen, his mother prepares the meal. Time passes. Elsie is still not here. In the street, a menacing shadow leans over the little girl. The mother hears children screaming in the building. She opens the door, finds herself on the landing and looks over the railing. A subjective shot then shows us – from above – the stair rails which form a strict geometry.

Endless seconds. The mother returns home and this time goes towards a window. She screams her daughter's name in a torn and heartbreaking voice. “ Elsie, Elsie… » As this desperate cry resonates, Lang, implacable, decides to repeat the famous high-angle shot of the stair railings. This is no longer the subjective vision of a worried mother but a purely mental plan. “ Elsie, Elsie… »Cut. Here are now some very straight beams between which hangs laundry. “ Elsie, Elsie… »Cut. A deep plate placed on a table in front of an empty chair. “ Elsie, Elsie… » The ax suddenly landed on the ” mother “ jelly. Elsie will never come back. Our internal sea, too, has petrified under the repeated blows of the cutting tool: editing. Only cinema can cause such an emotional shock thanks to a perfect arrangement of images.

journey to the Edge of the Night

M the Accursed therefore becomes a manhunt in a proletarian Germany which transforms its paranoia into a thirst for revenge. In 1931, the date of the release of the feature film, the Nazi party is at the gates of power and will, as we know, play on fear to implement the greatest crime in the history of humanity. Lang will only have time to direct one other feature film, The will of Doctor Mabuse (1933), before fleeing his country which had become unlivable. First in France then Hollywood where he will continue his career. Upon his arrival on the American continent, he will realize Fury (1936) with Spencer Tracy, variation on the same theme as M the Accursed. A way of saying that the madness of men is an evil that has no borders. French critic and filmmaker Jacques Rivette wrote upon discovering Lang's masterpiece: ” M makes us discover guilt with all the appearances of innocence. »

M the Accursed by Fritz Lang with Peter Lorre. Available on Arte.TV

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