- 1 hr 51 min
In the dark alleyways and bleak streets of Berlin, a child killer is on the loose, and the city is gripped with fear. As the police scramble to find the killer before he strikes again, the criminal underworld also mobilizes to catch the murderer - not out of any sense of justice, but to maintain their hold on their illicit trades. M is a German thriller from 1931, directed by Fritz Lang, and starring Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, and Inge Landgut. The film is a landmark in cinema history, known for its innovative style, psychological depth, and social commentary. It is often regarded as Lang's masterpiece.
At the center of the story is a chilling and disturbing performance by Peter Lorre as the killer, Hans Beckert. Lorre portrays Beckert as a tortured and tormented man, haunted by his own demons and driven to commit unspeakable acts. His childlike face, bulging eyes, and twitchy mannerisms create an unforgettable impression of vulnerability and menace.
The genius of M lies not only in its depiction of a serial killer, but in its exploration of the societal forces that create such monsters. Through the eyes of the police, the criminal underworld, and ordinary citizens, the film shows how fear and paranoia can drive even good people to act in horrific ways. It also highlights the dehumanizing effects of poverty, repression, and alienation, and how they can push individuals to the brink of madness.
The film's cinematography is another of its standout features. Lang uses light and shadow to great effect, creating a mood of dread and uncertainty that permeates every scene. The contrast between the bright city streets and the dimly lit corners where Beckert lurks reflects the stark division between the innocence and the depravity of human nature. The use of sound is also noteworthy, with Lang employing snatches of music, whistling, and other noises to build tension and disturb the audience.
As the hunt for the killer intensifies, the tension in the film reaches fever pitch. The police use every means at their disposal to catch Beckert, including mass roundups and surveillance of the city's phones. Meanwhile, the criminals, led by sinister mastermind Schranker, use their own methods to track him down. In the climactic scene, these two forces converge on a dark and abandoned factory in a showdown that will leave audiences breathless.
Throughout the film, Lang raises provocative questions about crime and punishment, justice and vengeance, and the role of the individual in society. There are no easy answers to these questions, but the film forces us to confront them nonetheless. M is a haunting and unforgettable cinematic experience, one that continues to resonate with audiences nearly a century after its initial release.
M is a 1931 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 51 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.3.