Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Permit me to Introduce Myself - Dr. Mabuse
Happy April Fool's day, Film of the Month Club readers! I bring you this month's film - Fritz Lang's Mabuse the Gambler - a great film, and a great character, to whom Lang returned twice more in his career.
I apologize for picking a 4 1/2 hour silent film for this month's discussion (though things move along nicely over those 4 1/2 hours) - I admit I am choosing it for a number of selfish reasons. One is, I am currently taking a class on German cinema, with Eric Rentschler, and so am already immersed in German films. I've been watching them, reading about them, thinking about them, can piggy back blogging onto that, which given my inherent laziness, has value. But more than that, the class has brought home to me just how shallow my knowledge of German films is - and how shallow my knowledge of Fritz Lang is. I may have seen M many times, and Metropolis quite often - but not much else. And finally seeing Mabuse, a month or so ago, left me most definitely wanting more. It's a marvelous film - a portrait of its time, a superb document of the beginnings of modernity, one that reflects a definite critical intelligence about modernity. Lang's continuing interest in the media, in information and technology and information technology, in the operations of the modern city, in the notion of the manipulation of information to manipulate people, is all present in this film in a very potent way. And they are all issues that are relevant today - media, stock market manipulation, technology - it's a portrait of our time...There's too much to say about it - it is good then to linger on it awhile.
So then.... It is important (to me) that I have only seen it once (as of tonight) - it's a chance to explore something relatively new. My plan, then, is this: I hope to post one or two pieces on the film itself, probably taking off from things that came up in the class. (And that I alluded to on my blog at the time.) The remarks above can probably indicate my interest in the film as a historical document - both as a historical object, and as a critical work in itself. History and formalism (for lack of a better word) are my passions - and this film scratches both those itches. After that - I also hope I can track down Lang's other Mabuse films - while that's not necessarily the purpose of this blog, I certainly hope to use this as an incentive to look at Lang as a director, Mabuse as a character, and so on. I suppose this too is a result of the context - I came to this film in the context of the history of German film: so tracing that history is a big part of what I want to do here.
And finally - I hope others will jump in as well. It's a big film - there's plenty of room for everyone. I look forward to any coming discussions.