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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (The Criterion Collection) (1933)

Rudolf Klein-Rogge , Otto Wernicke , Fritz Lang  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (The Criterion Collection) + Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler + The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
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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: 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.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001UZZS6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,593 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lang's Final Masterpiece on DVD! June 26, 2004
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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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fritz Lang Masterpiece -- Deserves Greater Attention January 19, 2005
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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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little known Lang masterpiece August 10, 2004
"The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" may be the greatest film you've never heard of. In addition to being a cinematic triumph, director' Fritz Lang's film is steeped in actual pre World War II history. The Nazis, only recently having assumed power in Germany, banned this film. Lang claimed that Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels delivered the news along with an offer to make movies for the Third Reich. The claim is probable though undocumented. The ban prompted Lang to leave Germany and bring his magnificent directorial skills to the United States.

One can easily see what so disturbed the Nazis about this second Mabuse film (Lang had earlier made a far less political silent version about the diabolical doctor). It is a brilliant allegory of the Nazi rise and their intent to exercise power through a "criminal empire" of fear and terror. It is an amazing triumph for Lang especially when one considers people were only just beginning the true nature of Nazi ideals and intent.

But politics aside (as if that is possible with such a film) Mabuse is a highly entertaining crime thriller with elements of the horror genre and a love story thrown in.

As always in a Lang film characters are well developed but exist to forward the story, not to dominate the screen. Otto Wernicke reprises his role as Inspector Lohman from Lang's "M." The cinematography is also true to Lang form, (indeed perhaps at its best) starting with a stunning opening scene.

This two-disc edition includes a French version made simulatelously by Lang, a relevant segment of a 1964 interview with the director, excellent commentary by David Kalat and more. The great people at Criterion have outdone even themselves with this package.

Anyone who appreciates "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" will be doing himself or herself a huge favor by purchasing this excellent DVD edition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick delivery;amazing movie
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 3 months ago by Judy Baker
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 stars for the creepy Dr. Mabuse sequel
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 more
Published 3 months ago by M. Oleson
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not the movie advertised. Do not rent it from Amazon.
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 more
Published 5 months ago by Garrison Means
4.0 out of 5 stars Influential
I still don't quite understand who Dr. Mabuse really was and what he was actually up to. In the end, it doesn't really matter. Read more
Published 9 months ago by mr. critic
5.0 out of 5 stars A Testament to Fritz Lang's genius
Convention has it, that by the mid to late 20's, silent cinema had reached its zenith in storytelling style and artistry. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. Stephen Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ascension of Dr. Mabuse
Mabuse may have been a gambler with human fortune in Lang's earlier contributions, but it is here that the character is elevated into something more than human. Read more
Published on April 11, 2011 by Zach Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars A crude warning!
Eleven years after his saga of Dr. Mabuse, Lang the terrible futuristic nigthmares he foresaw became real. This was his last film before leaving Germany. Read more
Published on January 5, 2011 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Cinema
Director Fritz Lang's horrific crime thriller remains among his finest works. Only his second talkie, "The Testament of Dr. Read more
Published on October 23, 2010 by Scott T. Rivers
Fritz Lang's brilliant horror suspense classic was made in 1933 during the last days of the Weimar Republic just before the Nazi's took full control of Germany. Read more
Published on September 7, 2010 by Robin Simmons
5.0 out of 5 stars Abusing Mabuse is amusing
A great film that is been re-discovered and restored into respectability after having been thought lost for ever. Read more
Published on June 7, 2010 by Jacques COULARDEAU
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