End of the World Film Club #7:
Fritz Lang’s M


Join us for our next End of the World Film Club, in which we’ll watch and discuss iconic director Fritz Lang’s M, a 1930s blueprint for serial killer movies that retains the power to shock…

The gears of capitalism are grinding necessarily, perhaps prematurely to life, and cinemas are beginning to reopen from this weekend. Still, some of us might not feel comfortable to set foot in enclosed spaces just yet. So, for the foreseeable future (at the very least), our End of the World Film Club will continue. During lockdown, it’s given us a regular appointment with film, and you – why would we want that to end?

How it works: we pick a film (they’re always free and easily accessible), which you can watch at your leisure, then you can follow and join in with the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #EndoftheWorldFilmClub. To select a film, we run a Twitter poll. It’s necessarily dependent on what’s available on any given fortnight, of course, but happily the options available (on platforms like BBC iPlayer, All4, streaming services with a free trial period and those films that have fallen into the public domain) have been great so far.

“We’ve watched some pretty remarkable cinema together”

It’s fair to say the End of the World Film Club has watched some pretty remarkable cinema together. From timeless classics including Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death to social commentary pictures such as Tehran Taboo and urgent documentary, The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975. Most recently, we had our first double-bill, in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden and Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta – quality has been extraordinarily high throughout.

For our next instalment we decided to look back at the years in which film as a mass medium really came into its own, and ground-breaking directors were becoming household names that remain in the cultural consciousness today. With a host of classic RKO Pictures (one of the original ‘Big Five’ studios of Hollywood’s golden age) dropping on BBC iPlayer earlier this year, we included Greatest Movie of all Time™, Orson Welles’ 1941 feature debut, Citizen Kane, and quintessential monster movie, 1933’s King Kong (from producer/director Merian C Cooper). We rounded out the options with Fritz Lang’s Berlin-set serial killer movie M (1931).

To be honest with you, we fully expected Citizen Kane to walk away victorious with this week’s poll. M, though, stormed into an early and, as it turned out, unassailable lead, eventually taking more than 60% of the vote. 32% of you went for Kane, while 7% voted for King Kong (the monster overmatched by two genuine heavyweights). It was a resounding win for Lang’s first talkie. Made amid a crumbling Weimar Republic, it is the film Lang thought of as his finest – quite the accolade considering a glittering filmography that straddles the worlds of silent and sound as well as German/English language cinema. Inspired by real events, Lang said that “The film should be a document and an extract of facts and in that way an authentic representation of a mass murder complex.”

Starring the always fascinating and magnetic Hungarian émigré Peter Lorre, M is a portrait not just of a killer, but also the society he inhabits. As the serial killings Lorre’s Hans Beckert commits happen to be of children, the film retains a certain shocking taboo element, so that it feels very modern even as it approaches its 90th year. Also weighted in its favour are its innovations in sound and genuinely iconic photography – both of which live long in the memory. The film, inarguably, is part of and continues to influence the language of cinema, and we can’t wait to discuss it with you next Friday.

What the critics said:

“What a haunting film it is.”

Roger Ebert

“An astounding hybrid of Bible-black film noir and a lithe take on German expressionist dynamics.”

Little White Lies

Watch M, and join us on Twitter to discuss, Friday 10 July, 7-8pm

The End of the World Film Club has watched:

The Handmaiden / Julieta

The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975

Tehran Taboo

The Conversation

Assault on Precinct 13

A Matter of Life and Death

Our poll to select the next film club film will take place Wednesday 15 July

Posted on 03/07/2020 by thedoublenegative