A serial killer is murdering children on the streets in the cities of Germany. Everyone is going nuts trying to find the murderer before he kills again. The police hire beggars as the mafia starts doling justice of their own out. Direct Fritz Lang examines this crime spree from every angle that he can.
The most surprising thing about this film is that it was released in 1932. This is an amazing movie, it’s the Summer of Sam from the 30s. It’s an early talkie, and Fritz Lang’s first film which wasn’t silent, which makes it very surprising that it conveys such a mastery of sound throughout. Actually, it feels much more like a movie made today than almost 90 years ago. The style of the story, how it has multiple plotlines happening all at once, amazing acting throughout, cinematography that’s way ahead of its time. This movie strides ahead of others in the same vein because nothing like this had ever existed before.
Part of me doesn’t want to fault the movie for anything as what I have to say is pretty minor, but then I’d be saying a movie was faultless when it really wasn’t, so… MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
First, this is just a trope that was way overused at the time, but it still bothers me. That’s that the movie should end in a courtroom, for whatever reason everything should be handled by a judge at the end of the film. I see what Fritz Lang was doing by flipping the cliche on its head and making it a court run by criminals, but it doesn’t translate in the way he wanted I think, instead feeling forced in the same way most of those other ending-in-a-courtroom movies do, and the ironic thing is that if it had just ended in a normal court with a judge and jury, I think I would have been more okay with it than I am here.
The other complaint is right at the very end it has three mothers whose kids were murdered saying that they should have been keeping a better eye on them, as all mothers should. It feels like it’s just forced in there because the movie had to have a moral, but it’s just tacked on like an afterthought and this isn’t what the overall message of the movie was.
+10: Truly amazing film
-1: Those two minor complaints lumped together
+1: Everything else is great