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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (The Criterion Collection)
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OK, it's totally weird, but good.
Well if you're in the mood for a different kind of movie, you have found what you are after. Read more
You can see here why Fritz Lang packed his bags and left Nazi Germany for Hollywood.
The evil genius (Der Fuher) is a puppet controlled by a mad men & crooks. Read more
An amazing movie way ahead of its time and is Fritz Lang's best film in my opinion. If you are a fan of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight"(which Nolan used in writing... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Ben Peters
Very interesting movie. We watched it three times over the holiday break. Good for the German, good for the subtitles and good for the historical references.Published on January 9, 2014 by Judy Baker
Any time I get a chance to see some of filmmaker Fritz Lang's work, I don't pass it up. This film is a sequel to his silent "Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler" from 11 years earlier. Read morePublished on December 28, 2013 by M. Oleson
This movie is the 1950's English dubbed version, not the original 1930's German language version described and sold as a DVD. This is a terrible version of a great film. Read morePublished on October 30, 2013 by Garrison Means