Thomas Cattaneo 2/11/02 Understanding Movies Fritz Lang “M” The 1931 German classic “M” was an extremely scary movie. The film touches on many of the typical Lang themes such as: justice & revenge, mob hysteria, the anticipation in watching a helplessly trapped person unsuccessfully trying to escape as greater forces move in. I personally thought the film was wonderful for its time. It wasn’t the plot because it the typical plot that we have seen over and over. What sells the movie for me is the acting. It is so good that it can almost be defined as overacting because of the outstanding jobs done by all the lead actors but especially by Peter Lorre as Hans B eckert.
The way he uses his eyes to show his emotions was pretty cool it was a something I hadn’t really seen too much of in too many movies. The sound in the movie was very interesting at times. There were scenes where you would see people moving and talking but yet there was no sound. It added an extra bit of suspense and fear to the movie and made the movie that much better. There was another scene where the beggars were out looking for the murderer, and one of the beggars was running a music cart and you could hear children’s voices in the background. This added to the suspense because you don’t know if the killer is around or not but all you can hear is children and see them running around it added an eerie like effect to the movie.
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I had to do a little research but I found out what song the killer was whistling it was the Grieg theme from ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. This theme has become synonymous with trouble, and menacing situations. The sound of the killer’s whistling is what inevitably gets him caught. The blind balloon seller sold a balloon to young Elsie Beckmann and a strange man was with her whistling the theme the same day she disappeared.
So the next time a girl came by with the man whistling that same theme, the blind man told one of his friends. He ends up getting caught because of the sound of his whistling that’s one of the main significances of sound in the movie. The director’s intent is hard for me to understand. There can be a couple of different points he may have been trying to prove. It probably was about the trial aspect of the movie where you wanted the children’s families to have the justice but at the same time you think he deserves a fair trial. The killer gives his defense on how he can’t control what he is doing and how he deserves to go to jail and not be killed.
But at the same time those families want their justice, which would mean him being dead so there is a battle between the good sentence and the bad sentence. Another possibility is that this film was based on a true story and at the time that was unheard of. He could have been trying to show the harsh realities to the people who weren’t affected by the murders and introduce a whole new element to film. The people who were affected by the murders experienced this element being suspense and he could have been trying to convey that to viewers..