People always mention “Metropolis” and “M” when they talk about German filmmaker Fritz Lang. While they’re both terrific, I personally vouch for “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse”, one of the best movies of the early talkies. Made in 1933, at a time when Nazism was on the rise, “Dr. Mabuse” was banned in Germany by Nazi propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and was not shown to the public until 1951. When it opens, we learn that there’s a new crime wave in Berlin and it’s up to inspector Lohmann (from “M”) to investigate. All clues lead to Dr. Mabuse, a crazy scientist who’s been in a mental hospital for a decade. How is it possible? That’s the question that eats at you as “Dr. Mabuse” holds you in its grip for two hours. It’s obvious that Lang is giving a sermon about the consequences of a Nazi-infested Germany. In the words of Mabuse himself: “When humanity, subjugated by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime”. Lang squeezes us without mercy in a rollercoaster of tension and suspense, but only to force us to look at the bigger picture. In a post-9/11 world, “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse” couldn’t be more relevant. It’s a timeless masterpiece.
★★★ Very good