Dr. Mabuse (1933)
Testament of Dr. Mabuse, 1933
This was an amazing movie. It was even better than Metropolis and that has long been a favorite of mine. Mabuse was only Lang’s second sound film. The first one being M with Peter Lorre. Testament of Dr. Mabuse was far ahead of its time.
I knew that Dr. Mabuse was reconstructed and so I was very confused by the opening scene. There was no sound and I thought maybe they had lost the soundtrack there. It turns out it was a disorienting device used by Lang.
The sound bridges (or whatever term works for a line or a sound that is echoed or is responded to in the next situation or scene) were especially cool. My favorite was the ticking of a time bomb echoed by a spoon tapping a boiled egg in the next scene.
Another device that impressed me was when a man imagined he was sitting at his desk. The way Lang showed this was by having the man sit at a desk which was clear glass or plastic. Everything on the desk was clear glass as well.
There was a stupid car chase. But then, I think they are mostly stupid.
Also, I read an interview with the playwright Arthur Miller about Death of a Salesman in which he claimed that the name of Willy Loman came from this movie. A character goes mad while desperately trying to phone the police detective, Lohmann. He said the panic in the man’s voice as he realizes over and over again that no one is going to help him inspired the choice.
Conclusion: This is a must see movie for people interested in film. It’s also a good thriller for anybody.