History of Cinema 2

September 9th, 2010

M… for Murder

Posted by therant in Uncategorized

Being a student a Queens College for a while now has taught me that the first day of class is filled with valueable information about the upcoming semester. Sure, having the syllabus helps but the professors personal input on certain topics is always one of the best tools if you want to get ahead of the curve.. I, unfortuneatly was.. um, held up and couldnt make it.

Being that I am so close to finishing my time here, I began to get nervouse of falling back on getting “ahead of the curve”, so I wrote a few emails, downloaded a few documents, signed up and linked up a few blogs. A came across the title to the movie the class saw on the first day and I did what most people do when they hunt for information.. I Googled. Luckily, I found it right away streaming for free on InternetArchives.com.

M is a black and white german movie based around the 1930’s (I think)I am not sure the name of the director but I think I remember something about Alfred Hitchcock being his student or protege or just simply studying the German directors style. The movie opens up in Germany and someone has committed a murder. The victim, or should I say victims, are german children being kidnapped from the street by force or by tricking them with treats. We are then introduced to how newspapers (media) plays a part in sculpting public perception and attitudes to the events taking place. I saw that the germans of that time had a Mob Mentality. Nothing is worse that when a Mob gets out of control, it can snowball very quickly. People grow suspicious of each other and begin to blame and accuse one another of being the murderer. I really like that I am captured and able to follow this black and white movie, the shots are simple but flow fluidly telling a story visually as well as having artistic style. The characters in the movie are well crafted too, specially the murderer. I heard that famous whistle as a child watching Looney Tunes (makes me think of the possibility of how culturally filled that cartoon or cartoons of that era might have been), but never thought that it was created from a german movie. The police officers, the public and the family of the victims are created well because each group operates, thinks and has different opinions from one another. The creator must have had to thought them out carefully, he must have incorporated the general feelings, thoughts, biases, opinions and attitudes from the people of his era into each group in order to have the viewing audience feel a sense of credibility. Good writers are able to capture that in order for viewers to relate. One of my favorite comedic moments in the movie was when the police raided an underground bar and when the top ranking official made it down the stairs, the public began chanting his name to make fun of him.. LOH-MANN! LOH-MANN! LOH-MANN!! .. I also enjoyed very much when the underground and government officials were having there meetings in different places but possibly at the same time, the director was able to jump in and out of conversation and location and intertwine the scenes as if to say both worlds are similar and have issues in common.

I really liked the use of shadows in this film, though not many, I still felt that when used it served the right purpose. I really really liked when the murderer saw a childs reflection in the mirror while  he was looking through the glass. I liked it because when he turned to his left side, we were able to see his reflection from the glass as his mind was changing from civilian to crazy whistling stalker/kidnapper, as if the director was saying that this reflection is his inner evil emerging. The arrow and spinning “thing” in the background in the same scene was also very artistic in my opinion. When the beggers were hot on the murderer’s trail was also a favorite. The style the director decided to shoot the scenes helped build the suspense and when the police officers were reviewing the “Protokoll” report, the images on the screen told of material being reviewed.

I must say that the final 15 minutes of the film are my absolute favorite among all the movies I have ever seen, the way the story unravels, the acting, the murderer’s reasoning (psychological) his pleading and begging, the dialogue and the style in which it is artistically shot. The murderer gives an honest in depth look into his madness and admits to being a compulsive killer due to his psychological problems, the man judging him gives insight to what germans of that era must have felt (people today still feel very simialar, death penalty), do the morally correct action is to quarantine him away from the public because he is a threat to civilization, but the man judging takes an extremist stance which is to eliminate him completely from society by death. The questions that follow after the lawyer speaks in this same scene, all give validation to why the man should die  rather than cared for in an asylum(but religion teaches us to not kill and religion is deeply embeded in our society and cultures). Law, Morality and Family values are all found in these last 10 minutes of the movie. The irony is the same men judging the murderer are also criminals, thieves, murderers and felons.

 I havent watched many black and white films.. M has left a lasting impression on me.

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2 Responses to ' M… for Murder '

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  1.    regiesh said,

    on September 10th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Though I do believe this is the most intelligent review put up so far, if you were there on the first day you would have known that the point of this blog is to be interesting and well, “blog-like,” not formal. Most people might unfortunately find this too long, even boring (though the latter I didn’t feel personally). On your next post maybe try shortening your feelings to a few short paragraphs and think about who will be reading it from an internet/entertainment perspective. If you feel you must write an essay because you feel so strongly about a film, do so; no one is stopping anyone from doing that but know it doesn’t have to be so formal.

  2.    Amy Herzog said,

    on September 13th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Alan,
    I actually thought this was pretty informal and very direct about your thoughts on the film. What I did stress in class was that the point of the blogs is to start a conversation, so all of our posts and comments will be an experiment in finding a writing style that generates discussion.

    As a cinephile, I will say that I always cringe a bit in terms of streaming films online. Internet Archives is an AMAZING resource (and totally legal!!). I’ll bet their version is pretty high quality. But in general, I’d try to seek out the best resolution copies of any film we view to make sure you are getting the full experience. So much can be lost when films are compressed!
    Thanks for getting the ball rolling.

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