Historical fiction: The tragic life of Albrecht von Haar in journal format
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‘M’ as metaphor

I watched Fritz Lang’s film ‘M’ yesterday. After saying good night to Ada following our  late afternoon stroll and dinner. Berlin’s streets are not safe, so I walked Ada home before heading over to the theater on Fredrichstrasse.  Several toughs with Nazi swastika armbands were protesting at the theater.  I brushed past one of the men blocking my way and he called after me, “This film is filth!”

M by Fritz Lang

I disagree. ‘M’ is Lang’s first talking picture and is a masterpiece of suspense. The movie’s topic of serial killings of children is indeed disturbing and the ending is ambivalent, but the composition and mood of the film is compelling. Peter Lorre does a remarkable job in the main role as the child killer. And a creepy role it is indeed. This is a role from which he may have  a difficult time distancing himself for quite some time. I have to admit that I will never be able to listen to  “In the Hall of the Moutain Kings” again without thinking of this sinister film. Peter Lorre whistles the tune as he goes about his macabre business. I don’t think Edvard Grieg would have been pleased having his music associated with this film.

I believe the Nazi’s despise ‘M’ not so much for its possible “incitement of public disorder,” as they claim, but more for its portrayal of a criminal underground, something that may touch a nerve a bit too close to Hitler and his lieutenant’s methods. One recalls Hitler’s abortive Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. During the past year over 200 of Hitler’s fascist followers have been killed and 1,000 seriously wounded fighting Communist and Reichsbanner opponents. Are the Nazi’s a serious political organization or some kind of mob?


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