Monday, 5 April 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 197

212 - M - 3 stars
Travelled all the way down to jolly old London town for a much needed weekend away from the office, a good catch-up with friends and a special screening at the BFI Southbank, sight of the famous Kim Newman Basterd-Hard Movie Quiz win last year.
I met up with Tim aka @cjamazing who is doing a similar challenge to myself, just without the ridiculously short timescale. Check out his blog here.
A lot has been made recently about the future of cinema, and the technological advances of digital and 3D cinema, but I do have a soft spot for the hiss and crackle of an old 35mm print, imperfections and all.
The central plot of M concerns a town under the terrifying shadow of a child murderer. When the police investigations start to infringe on the criminal element of the city, they decide to take matters into their own hands and begin a manhunt for the killer, in an attempt to return things to the natural status quo.
The film suffers from a strong lack of pacing; nothing really happens in the middle of the film except lots of different groups arguing about what should be done, although there are a few nice moments of the kind of hysteria/mob justice that can erupt in the wake of such crimes (and this was before the era of tabloid journalism).
The main reason that this film features so highly on the list is due to the final scene and the performance of Peter Lorre as the murderer (and most likely molester) of children, absent from a lot of the film to enhance the feeling of the fear of this unknown monster, sometimes only heard whistling 'In The Hall Of The Mountain King', which gives the Alton Towers adverts a whole new sinister reading.
Revealed as a short, chubby little man, there is something inherently creepy about him. If there was ever a film biopic of his life, he would be played by Steve Buscemi as they are both "kinda funny looking".
Following his capture, he is tried in front of a kangeroo court of his peers, including pickpockets, thugs and even murderers, all united in their belief that his crimes are indefensible and must be stopped.
Lorre then delivers a magnificent performance as he tries to explain the reasons why he is driven to kill, his compulsion and it is during this that he turns from a monster into a human being, albeit a very sick and troubled one. Very powerful stuff, check it out here.
Days remaining - 168 Films remaining - 218

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