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Pennsylvania, United States
What changes hath time wrought...mostly a different hair-color, a few wrinkles and loss of short-term memory.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

M...The 1931 Movie...Relevant Today?

We at the Teeter house finally succumbed to the lure of Netflix. This was prompted by friends who recommended it and the fact that the video store less than a mile from our house closed. We've enjoyed watching movies we would probably never have watched. I enjoy old, black and white movies along with foreign films with subtitles. I chose to watch M a German film directed by Fritz Lang in 1931. The movie's description cites it as the first "serial killer" movie. Yet I still watched it even after learning this.

What was surprising was how timely and relevant the movie still is! The last spoken words are "One has to keep closer watch over the children!" Then the screen goes black and these words appear in white, 'All of you!' My husband and I occasionally discuss whether child molestation took place as frequently in the past. He believes it was not as prevalent as it is in our "modern" time. I disagree saying we only hear about it more often. So I was surprised when this movie involved a child serial killer. You never see what he does to these girls and you only discover later- through the police- he has killed them. What makes the movie remarkable is WHO brings the murderer to "justice."

Since the police have no leads to the identity of this murderer they frequently raid the underbelly establishments of this unnamed German city. The criminals who run these businesses are losing money because of the raids. So they meet and decide to hunt for the killer. This is the most exciting part of the movie. They have a huge network of "spies" looking for a man who befriends a girl who is alone. And through this network they are able to trap the killer.

Once captured they bring the man to trial in an abandoned warehouse. It's quite a powerful scene. Oddly enough they provide the defendant with an attorney! And the lawyer presents a powerful defense! Nonetheless I personally am just disgusted and saddened when I hear about any kind of abuse of kids. That includes the "kids' who are abused by classmates/bullies. I don't think I am alone. Yet most of the audience has committed horrible crimes themselves!

Tim and I can usually find some common ground in our debate about the increasing numbers of crimes against kids. He did not watch the movie with me, but I shared the gist of the movie with him. He wasn't nearly as amazed as I was by the message in this 1931 movie. I think if this issue was important enough to make a movie about in the 1930s it was probably an important issue in reality.