Customer Review

232 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Again? ...but well, I've got to buy this one..., January 4, 2005
This review is from: M (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I'm sorry for those who already own the former 1999 Criterion DVD of M (including myself, of course....) but this one is a must-buy item.

After more than 7 decades since its making, Fritz Lang's M remains a poignantly modern film; a striking portrait of the contemporary human world as we live in.

Fritz Lang, who always regarded M as his best film and the one by which he would be remembered, used to call it "a documentary". It is one of the first films about serial killers, and already Lang goes beyond depicting the pathology of such criminal; what M examines is the pathology of our contemporary society of urbanization, mass politics, and mass media: it's also a film about a 20th century metropolis of mass society and mass media culture.

The former Criterion DVD edition of M was made of the best available material back then-- a print restored from many different sources, re-establishing as close as possible, Lang's original release cut. It was also a good transfer for a standard, NTSC digital medium.

But what sometime happen in the world of film restoration is, some materials that have been considered to be lost are suddenly be re-discovered. This new edition of M is created (for the most parts, expect for one reel which was missing) from the original camera negative, and transferred to HD video master. The result is-more details, less scratches, finer grains, and more subtleties.

The earlier DVD was a bare one. This new edition presents Lang's portrayal of social pathology of the 30's also with an audio commentary by Anton Kaes and Eric Renteschler. Kaes's book about M published as part of BFI classics series had already revealed Lang's freighting vision, pointing out how much of M was based on real events and real details of Berlin, including some underground figures played by actual underground celebrities of Berlin. With audio commentary, his points can be more articulately appreciated.

The supplements on the second disc can be seen as a testimonies of how many filmmakers and critics regarded M as a their contemporary film, how much inspiration M has been provoking in film history. But they have seen the film in far less complete versions than we can do now; for M has constantly victim of censorships, banning, alternations and mutilations over the years. The DVD also includes that history, including the Nazis who banned the film using segments of it in a propaganda film accusing "decadent art".

Watching M again on this new DVD was again a real inspiration. Though it is an early sound film, with very limited resources compared to the modern sophisticated technologies...well, it testifies how much one can do with the medium of cinema.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 12, 2007 8:22:44 PM PST
Julie Vognar says:
Thank you for clarifying the different prints!

Posted on Jun 15, 2008 4:29:45 PM PDT
J. Thomas says:
Yes, great review. A lot of people are complaining about the "white line" at the top towards the end of the film. OPTICAL PRINTER error, people!!!! Criterion did not, as some have said, do a crappy job!!! They, along with KINOFILM, are the best at what they do for DVD releases. Also, the proper aspect ratio IS 1.18:1. That was due to the new sound element. So, get over it detractors, Criterion did about as good as humanly possible. Hopefully they will slowly start releasing bluray.....
Thanks again for the great review.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2008 8:17:08 AM PDT
E K Maxmias says:
No white lines here. This is nearly perfect. A very accurate review.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2008 5:30:23 PM PST
J. Thomas says:
Oh, yeah..I was referring to peoples general misunderstanding of film restoration. The white line is on the first release. I made it very unclear....

The second release restoration is masterful and we won't likely be seeing better!
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