lunes, 5 de mayo de 2008

Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler

Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (2006 DVD)
Directed by Fritz Lang
Germany, 1922
Silent with English intertitles

  • "How does a woman like you get into such company? Black marketeers, gamblers and prostitutes?"
  • "We are bored and tired, Mr. von Wenk! We need sensations of a very special kind to keep us alive!"

Fine, fine crime thriller frequently hailed as Germany's response to the Fantômas books and Feuillade serials. While a hefty four and a half hours of running time may necessitate that you devote a weekend to most leisurely submit to its decadent pleasures (the film, based on a pulp novel by Norbert Jacques, was initially released in two aptly-titled installments, Dr. Mabuse, the Great Gambler and Inferno: A Play of People of Our Time), the documentary-like portrayal of various cocaine-and-cards clubs and the usual expressionistic obsessions with things like mad doctors, mind control, and spiritualism make this totally worth it. Siegfried Kracauer's 1947 From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film isn't alone in positing Mabuse as the type of tyrannical, Hitlerian übermensch that would foreshadow the true Evil to come, but Lang's vision of manipulated stock market crashes and world-weary aristocrats looking for shallow kicks ("Everything you see from a car or a theater box is ugly...or dull") does a superior job of capturing a Berlin hovering over the edge of the abyss even without that retrospective analytical baggage included. Featuring Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the power-mad archcriminal, Bernhard Goetzke as the dogged Prosecutor von Wenk, and Gertrude Welcker as aimless socialite Gräfin Dusy Told (my new silent movie girlfriend, at least for the day). (

2 comentarios:

  1. I saw this movie in order to complete Lang's Mabuse trilogy, but it was my least favourite. Well, I admire the artistry, but for my money 'The Testament of Dr. Mabuse' is the Dr. Mabuse movie! The things Lang does with sound, then a new thing in cinema, in that movie is still more interesting than what many modern movies do, save for the Coens and David Lynch.

    'The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse' (1960) is pre-James Bond high octane espionage madness, perhaps historically less important but so entertaining!

    Interesting how Lang was ahead of the future with each movie - the first showed stock manipulation and the Crash; the second heralded the rise of Hitler; and the third invented the modern action thriller.

    1. Miguel, belated thanks for your comments on the Mabuse series--I liked this movie so much that I'm ecstatic to hear that it's the one you liked the least. Good times ahead! Although I couldn't tell you why I never watched any of the other Mabuse films to this point, I'm excited to think about these movies and Lang again. M is another favorite of mine by him. Cheers!