Showing posts with label Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Show all posts

27 October 2013

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) Masters Of Cinema Blu-ray Review

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BD Release Date:
28th October 2013 (UK)
Eureka! Video
Fritz Lang
Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Aud Egede-Nissen, Gertrude Welcker
Buy Dr.Mabuse The Gambler: [Blu-ray] / (Limited Edition Steelbook) [Blu-Ray]

Dr. Mabuse: der spieler is a two-part film from Fritz Lang. The films it total run over 4 hours in length. It’s one of Fritz Lang’s first great films and Lang would continue the story of the criminal masterpiece Dr. Mabuse in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and The 1000 eyes of Dr. Mabuse, the last film Lang directed. The character of Dr. Mabuse comes from the novel of the same name by Norbert Jacques.

Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is a criminal masterpiece, doctor of psychology and master of disguise. He also has powers of hypnosis and mind control. The good doctor the overseer of counterfeiting and gambling of the Berlin underworld. The first film starts with orchestrating a cunning plan of a theft of an important contract that creates a temporary panic n the stock market that he exploits to his financial advantage.

Dr. Mabuse is also a expert gambler due to his hypnotising his opponents. He hypnotises Edgar Hull but after other people confront him about his lost he can’t remember loosing. He goes to State Prosecutor Norbert von Wenk and he believes it’s the same man who is responsible for all of these huge looses in illegal card games. He vows to find the man responsible and bring him to justice. Dr. Mabuse will do anything in his power to stay elusive even if it means murder.

The film was preceded by Fritz Lang’s Destiny, which I’ve still never seen but from all accounts was the film, which his style became apparent from. Lang along with Eisenstein and Griffith are hands down the people responsible for all the techniques in modern film language. Lang invented what would become the modern thriller and science fiction film in films like Mabuse, M, Spione and of course Metropolis. He was one of the first directors to use special effects extensively and many modern techniques from him then for example Méliès.

The film is sprawling complicated mystery of intrigue, magic, hypnosis and cocaine. It’s runs for an epic 4 hours and 30 minutes or so and it would be a lie if it didn’t drag at moments but silent films of this ilk were very much the original mini-series. It predates film noir by roughly 20 years and Lang and German expressionism in wider sense were the biggest inspired for the film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. The influence was so much so that Lang himself is also a noted director noir with films like The Big Heat and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

It’s a one of Lang’s most important film even though it probably could have lost a good hour of footage but if you take it as a proto mini-series you will be fine. The sequel The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a tighter film and better for it but it all started here and it’s mighty fine piece of work. The great Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein actually edited it down for a Soviet audience and that would be an interesting find but I doubt it will ever surface sadly.


Ian Schultz

24 September 2012

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Masters Of Cinema) Blu-Ray Review

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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was Fritz Lang’s last film in his native Germany. Soon after his completion of the film he fled Germany because of his Jewish ancestry and the fact the Nazi head of propaganda banned his film and also because he went Lang to make films for them. It is a sequel to his previous film in the Dr. Mabuse series but having not seen the earlier film will not diminish the effect of the sequel.

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse opens with disgraced Detective Hofmeister who escapes from his criminal attackers. He phones his former superior inspector Karl Lohmann and frantically tells him he has discovered a huge criminal conspiracy. Before he can discloses the identity of the responsible criminal, shots and fired and he goes mad and institutionalized at Prof. Baum’s mental institute.

Baum introduces the case of Dr. Mabuse who went bad and crazy 10 year previously. Mabuse writes detailed plans for crimes and is the head of the crime syndicate. A colleague of Baum’s is shot and killed by Mabuse’s execution squad. There is clue scratched on a window. Lohmann suspects Mabuse but it’s revealed Mabuse died that morning. The rest of the film is Lohmann’s investigate in the crime syndicate.

The film is a complex endlessly fascination crime sage with a strange supernatural twist to it. Fritz Lang later regretted the supernatural element but it’s ads this wonderful off kilter aspect to the crime film. The film is one of the last grasps of German expressionism but is shot in a much realistic style than most German expressionism. It’s not quite up to the beauty of Lang’s Metropolis or M. It’s a near masterpiece with some slight pacing issues but saying that the previous Mabuse film was over 4 hours long (I haven’t seen it yet).

The Nazis banned the film because according to Joseph Goebbels “showed that a extremely dedicated group of people are perfectly capable of overthrowing any state with violence”. It is a very cynical look at the government/officials who are rather useless in the film and can’t do anything about the syndicate.

The film is wonderfully photographed and has enough twist and turns to keep you guessing. It’s not as good as some of Lang’s previous masterpiece but what are? Not many films. It’s a wonderfully offbeat mix of cop drama, mystery and horror and it’s a wonderful piece of proto-noir. It has been lovingly restored by Eureka for Masters of Cinema on blu-ray.

Ian Schultz

UK DVD Release Date: 24th September 2012
Directed By:Fritz Lang
Cast: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke , Gustav Diessl  
Buy Testament Of Dr. Mabuse: Blu-ray [1933]