A) In what ways do you think
this film was “disturbing”? How does a film like this compare and contrast in
the kind of social message it is trying to get across versus Charlie Chaplin’s The
There are many reasons why “M” was disturbing. First the main
reason I believe it was disturbing is because it was one of the last German
Avant Garde film in the early 30’s. This style of film included an Antihero (in
the case of “M” a pedophilic serial killer.) a dark urban setting with complex
architecture, and a dynamic and robust sets. This form insights a sense of
terror, confusion, paranoia, and claustrophobia. The casting for “M” was also
done brilliantly, casting Peter Lorre as the serial killer was brilliant. With
his raspy psychotic voice, his insane bulging eyes to convey fear and desire,
and his chubby adolescent facial feature made him the perfect fit. Comparing “M” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid.”
The portrayal of the devastation and fear in which a mother goes through when
loosing a child. In contrast, “M” sympathizes with the abusive nature of the
police showing how beneficial being emotionless to citizens rights can be. “The
Kid,” shows how being emotionless isn’t always effective and can cause more
devastation (when the kid is taken away from Charlie by child services.)
Read C) First please!!
film was part of the transition to sound films and therefore has remnants of
the silent era still evident in its production. How is sound strategically used
in this film to help shape the audience’s experience of what they are seeing
and experiencing on the screen?
Since this was a transitional period for sound in movies, directors
like Fritz Lang were still experimenting with the media. In my opinion Fritz Lang
did an impeccable job for his first time, using sound to convey information and
silence for suspense. A perfect example of sounds strategic placement within
the film is in the scene described down in question C). At first Hans is
enjoying his apple in peace and quiet, looking at some of the finest selection
of “Zwilling J.A Henckels knives.” (Interesting fact of the day, the knives he
was looking at have one of the oldest trademarks in the world dating back to
June 13th 1731…) At this point the entire scene is silent, but as he
spots the girl and contemplates whether he should pursue her, the audio gets
more static and upsetting. Finally, he makes his decision and the audio comes
fully into the scenes showing he’s now hyper aware of his surroundings as he
stalks his prey.
does the film’s visual components contribute to the psychological dimensions of
the movie’s main character, Hans Beckert? Pick one scene to comment on more
My favorite scene was when Hans Beckert
is walking through town, he stops by a knife store to window shop. At first, the
camera is in a POV inside the display looking out at Hans face. As he’s eating
his delicious piece of fruit, you can see his attention ominously switch to
something in the display. A little girl in the reflection of a mirror
surrounded by knives. In my opinion this was a symbol of his initial emotions
toward looking at her. As he wipes his repugnant lower lip he contemplates his
next course of action. But then Hans eyes widen up as a rush of remorse comes surging
through him. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long as he takes another look at
her. Slowly turning towards her, he determines his next course of action. He
tilts his head down making his hat’s shadow cover his face and starts whistling.
This scene contributes to the psychological dimensions of Hans Beckert because
it’s the first hint we get towards an inner dilemma in his own actions.
D) How was
achieving verisimilitude (the appearance of being real or true) important to the
design of the film? How does Lange succeed in making the film feel real or
verisimilar? At the same time, what do you suspect Lange was attempting to
accomplish with the antirealist aspects of the film?
Achieving verisimilitude was extremely important to “M.” The main
reason why verisimilitude is so important to the thriller genre is because it
allows the viewer to become fully immersed in the story. Immersion is so
important to the thriller genre because without it, the viewers would quickly realize
there is no threat reducing any tension the director was attempting to build
up. Lange accomplished this by using not only dialogue to convey information
but also film and reactions. He also used sound in a very realistic way, with
the occasional whistle from Hans to create tension, Lange only used audio for
the regular 1930’s city scape audio and dialogue. A great example of when Lange
was using antirealistic aspects in “M” was during the police raid on the bar. This
scene was filmed in silence to create uncertainty within the audience. Showing hundreds
of police flood the dark streets in complete silence is pretty unsettling. It
also helps illustrate how methodical they are, blocking off every single possible
exit before anyone can notice. These aspects help us understand how big of a
threat they are not only to the underground crime syndicates but to our antagonist.
E) Overall, what were your
impressions of the film? Describe one way that the film met your expectations
and one way that the film surprised and/or exceeded your expectations.
My first impression of “M” was “why is there no music whatsoever in
the background?” with the proceeding thought being “Oh no this might be boring.”
I like my audio! When we watched Charlie Chaplin I enjoyed the film… but I
always feel awkward in complete silence, even just a piano lightly playing
along in the background would have changed my experience positively. For “M” I
was pleasantly wrong! His use of sound was surprisingly precise and helped me
achieve verisimilitude. I’d never heard of “M” or Fritz Lang before this class
so my only expectations were made in class and my expectations were high after you
showed us the trailer for “Metropolis.” That movie looks amazing and I’m still
excited to find the time and watch it. He met those expectations I wouldn’t say
surpassed them, but I’m glad to say this movie is different from any other I’ve
seen before! I believe this is because of its aspects from silent film era and
the added bonus of audio.
and why does Lange humanize Hans Beckert?
Lange humanized Hans Beckert for one reason, to add suspense and
make the audience question their own morality in why they believe he should be
murdered. My own belief is; to make an antagonist believable they have to be
human. What I mean by this is that every character must be human to achieve verisimilitude.
We all have our faults… some more than others but everyone has desires, habits
and especially emotions. We are social creatures and we can easily sympathies
with others emotions. So, using tools like fear and guilt can help a director create
sympathy for even the worst of people. This helps create the dilemma on whether
Hans should be murdered or sent to court where he’ll most likely be institutionalized.
Lange helped humanize Hans by giving him his own narrative where you can see
his emotions through facial expressions. He also gave Hans a defense against
his case which helps confirm all our prior beliefs that he is struggling with
his own actions and that he feels remorse.