Made two years before Hitler came to power, Fritz Lang’s first sound film is a great psychological thriller, a trenchant treatise on crime and justice, and a vivid portrait of the rapidly disintegrating Weimar Republic.
Peter Lorre shot to stardom as the compulsive child murderer who is hunted down not only by a desperate, frustrated police force, but - rather more ruthlessly - by Berlin’s criminal underworld. The extraordinarily detailed police procedures are based on Lang’s research at the Alexanderplatz police headquarters, while the documentary-style depiction of Berlin’s prostitutes, beggars and grotesquely respectable citizens recalls the sharp-eyed satire of artists such as Grosz and Dix.
Lorre’s first major screen role was also his greatest - no monstrous caricature but a quietly credible psychopath who could easily be your next-door neighbour. The explosive revelation of his inner torment is one of cinema’s great set-pieces. Renowned for its striking imagery and inventive use of sound, M can now be enjoyed in a pin-sharp new restoration. For once, such words as ‘seminal’, ‘unmissable’ and ‘masterpiece’ are not just hype.
This new restoration of Fritz Lang’s M is released by the BFI to mark the 50th anniversary of Peter Lorre’s death.
Restoration by TLEFilms Film Restoration & Preservation Services (Berlin) in association with CNC - Archives francaises du film.
From 5 September
Irish Film Institute, Dublin
Glasgow Film Theatre
New Park Chichester
Errol Flynn Filmhouse, Northampton
Stamford Arts Centre
Clwyd Theatr Cymru
30 November and 3 December