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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (The Criterion Collection)

26 customer reviews

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(May 18, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke. A criminal mastermind controls his underworld empire while residing in an asylum, plotting ways of destroying the world. Directed by Fritz Lang. In German with English subtitles. 1933/b&w/120 min/NR/fullscreen.

Special Features

  • New digital transfer with restored image and sound, presented here in its orginal aspect for the first time
  • Audio commentary by David Kalat, author of The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse
  • Complete French-language version of the film, Le Testament du Dr. Mabuse, filmed simultaneously by Lang with French actors
  • Excerpts from For Example Fritz Lang, 1964 interview with Lang
  • Mabuse in Mind, 1984 film by Thomas Honickel featuring an interview with actor Rudolf Schundler
  • Comparison between the 1932 German version, the French version, and The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse the edited and dubbed American version of the film
  • Interview with German Mabuse expert Michael Farin about the literary inventor of the series, Norbert Jacques
  • Rare production design drawings by art director Emil Hasler
  • Collection of memorabilia, press books, stills, and posters
  • New essay by Tom Gunning, author of The Films of Fritz Lang

Product Details

  • Actors: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke, Gustav Diessl, Rudolf Schündler, Oskar Höcker
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Writers: Fritz Lang, Norbert Jacques, Thea von Harbou
  • Producers: Fritz Lang, Seymour Nebenzal
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001UZZS6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,246 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Anders Borelius on June 26, 2004
Format: DVD
I think I was 11 years old when I first saw this film and now, 30 years later, it remains one of the most haunting cinematic experiences I've ever had. Some movies - like great art in any form - just don't seem to age. Everything one could wish for in a first-class thriller is here: complex plot and characters, fast-paced action, nail-biting suspense, brilliant photography, editing and direction together with some of the most suggestive scenes ever shown on the silver screen. The actors are good too (with a few minor exceptions), especially Otto Wernicke (reprising his role in "M") as Inspector Lohmann - the antithesis of the brutal and sadistic german officer/policeman so frequent in mainstream cinema. You have to go to Alfred Hitchcock's best works to find anything that surpasses this film.
Made during the final chaotic months of the Weimar Republic by master director Fritz Lang ("Metropolis", "M") the movie was banned when the Nazis came to power in early 1933; it was to be Lang's last work before leaving Germany. He directed a string of films in Hollywood and though some of them were quite good he never managed to reach the heights of filmmaking he had done during his German period, mainly because the American studio system didn't give him the artistic freedom he had previously enjoyed.
The plot revolves around the mysterious Dr. Mabuse, a criminal mastermind invented by the German author Norbert Jacques and made famous by Lang's 1922 silent film "Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler". A decade later we find the notorious doctor locked away in an asylum. He hasn't spoken a word for ten years, instead he is writing his "testament", a detailed manual describing how to commit the most hideous crimes, crimes that serve no other purpose than to throw a law-abiding society into total chaos and anarchy.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Beth Fox on January 19, 2005
Format: DVD
Don't be put off that it is more than 70 years old; don't be deterred because it is in German. "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" can only be described as awesome -- in the traditional sense of the word. Many early sound motion pictures were talking plays. Fritz Lang, however, truly uses sound in all its aspects. For example, the very first scene creates tension by allowing us to hear only the clanking of a machine. We see people talking, but we cannot hear what they are saying, because they are drowned out by the machine. The viewer knows something is happening, but does not know what. Lang makes effective use of sound throughout. The visuals are amazing, too. We see what a room looks like when illuminated only by a gunshot. We see spectacular fires.

The story may be 70 years old, but it is as recent as today's headlines. Dr. Mabuse, now locked in a mental institution, directs the activities of a terror gang. The gangsters, who are ordinary criminals themselves, cannot understand the purpose of the crimes, which do not appear to be profitable. The point is: the crimes are committed simply to cause terror. Once the population is fully terrorized, the criminal empire can take over. The film was completed weeks after the Nazis took power and not surprisingly, Joseph Goebbels banned the film. Goebbels did allow it to be shown a few years later, after Otto Wernicke was filmed in a new introduction which claimed that the events of the film occured a few years before (i.e., in the Weimar era.) While the film's portrayal of a hypnotic leader can and did describe Adolf Hitler, it also describes hypnotic terrorist leaders today. This story is fresh.

The restoration is outstanding. Although this film is from the 1930s, there is no hissing or popping. The visuals are bright and sharp. Rudolf Klein Rogge, who portrays Dr. Mabuse, does not have much to say, but his whispers will chill you to the bone. This is a masterpiece.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Swederunner on June 16, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Fritz Lang's Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a sequel to his Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922), however, in this film he uses Nazi motto's in the mouth of a mad scientist. Lang pushed the envelop as he directed this cinematic landmark that Joseph Goebels, Nazi Minister of Information, deemed dangerous for public order in Nazi Germany. Despite the Nazi's banning the film they recognized Lang's cinematic genius as they offered him a position as the head of German film. However, Lang recognized the danger and escaped from Germany shortly after the Nazi's banned Testament of Dr. Mabuse.
Testament of Dr. Mabuse begins with Berlin's police inspector Lohmann (Otto Wernicke), receiving a phone call from a certain Hofmeister that is suspiciously cut off with strange noise in the background. Lohmann's investigation leads to a mysterious disappearance of Hofmeister and more strange crimes begin to appear. Lohmann is flabbergasted over the new crime wave as new leads brings him to a mental institution where Dr. Mabuse has been committed for his insane crimes. However, Dr. Mabuse has been diagnosed as incapable of daily functioning since he has been attached to a writing pad for ten years where he has been writing incomprehensible gibberish. There seems to be something sinister that is working behind the curtain, but that is for Lohmann to discover.
The sound, cinematography, and special effects are jaw dropping considering when the film was shot as these aspects of film making, still to this day, enhance the alarm and horror that the audience experiences. For example, in the opening shot the camera pans across a dusty attic turned into an engineering workshop while the deafening mechanical sound induces frightening mental images illustrates Lang's ingenious directing skills.
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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (The Criterion Collection)
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