Review of M

M (1931)
Distrust, Paranoia, Terror, Murder
11 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
M (1931)

M is not a cheerful movie like City Lights, which also came out in the same year. M is the dark, deep and edgy crime drama. M focuses on a German city of thousands, the movie begins and feels much like a after school special, but quickly turns dark as the first victim in the movie is taken. The movie then focuses on the dark and undertone of society and human behavior. Inspired by the sheer panic of Jack the Ripper in London 50 years before, the German city goes through a nightmarish time where no one trusts anyone else. The atmosphere of the movie is shown and one can almost hear the whispers of the town folk as the movie draws you in and you wonder who is the murderer. The mass hysteria also over turns the townsfolk better judgment to fear and it's three components: -Distrust – no one in the town trusts anyone. The simple act of telling a child the time is misread by several people -Paranoia – the edginess of the town is felt, people are constantly looking over their shoulders and urban legend of the killer runs rampant. -Terror – A man who gave the time of day to a child is pointed at and a flash mob appears, nearly tearing the man apart. The murderer also adds to the chaos by being a normal person, police and later the organized crime also realize this. This means that the murder could be a normal man or woman walking among them, paying their taxes, buying their bread, or reading the newspaper, just like Jack the Ripper, to this day Jack the Ripper is still unknown.

The killer, Hans, is represented as a normal looking guy, but as the movie progresses and shows more of him as he walks the street, we see an overwhelming force begin to take over him. Hans resists as much as he can, he tries to drown away the feelings and tries several different ways. But soon his murderous side takes over and his once jittering and nervous self is replaced by a calm and cool gentleman who treats kids kindly until the end. The calm Hans is broken out of his killer trance when he realizes that he's been marked and is being hunted. He reverts to his jittery and nervous self and tries to hide. When finally caught and placed before a jury of his peers and local townsfolk, Hans tells them what it feels like to be haunted by the feeling to kill, the overwhelming urge to kill. Hans tells them how he deeply regrets killing his victims and how he's consistently haunted by the faces of the victims and the family. Hans displays thought patterns associated to a disorganized serial killer. He kills on impulse, not having a plan, but just getting urges and quickly takes the first victim they can find. These types often block out memories of killing their victim, as stated by Hans in M.

M continues to be considered to be one of the top movies from the 1930's. The movie's style is quick to capture the isolation and fear of the story through the clever work with camera angles and lighting. The use of sound, a relatively new thing in the 30's, is used carefully and there's isn't too much talking, only the bare minimum. The director slides the auto around to make it sound like two group of people, police and mobsters, are having the same conversation. There's also several parts where there is no sound, but instead takes the ear point of the crowd of people. The empty shots shown as the first victim is murdered quickly brings a silence and an awe to the movie. The touchy subject of murder is strengthen in this movie since it deals with child murders and possible rapes. The controversial topic is well shown and isn't glorified and is felt evil without showing any blood. M feels a lot like a cautionary tale, a movie saying to be more careful of children, how well do you know people, and that deep down everyone can quickly become different people.

M's strong storytelling and strong visuals as well as some superb acting makes this movie a classic and continues to stand the test of time.
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