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.
But to revel in the sound is only one facet of this surprising movie. The plot, for example is for its time both complex and enigmatic. On one level it is about a hunt for a mastermind criminal.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Definitely a *4* star Movie even though its part of the Criterion Collection!!Published 1 month ago by A Roger Zelazny Fan
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
Not quite as good as the 1930's original. But it does provide an interesting contrast. You have to love Dr. Mabuse.Published 15 months ago by Michael C. Schroeder
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 21 months ago by Ben Peters