In Review: Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922) on Blu-ray

by Mark Searby on 18/11/2013

dr mabuse

Spending four and a half hours watching a German silent film isn’t most people’s idea of a good time at the movies. However, Dr Mabuse The Gambler (English translation) comes from Fritz Lang, director of legendary silent film Metropolis, and so has a large claim on our curiosity and attention. Here we see the early signs of themes that come to fruition in Metropolis, such as social commentary on German life during the early part of the 20 th century and German expressionism. Arch Criminal Dr. Mabuse and his cohorts set out to make a fortune through theft. As the Doctor targets his next victim, he uses psychic manipulation to ensure he wins at a high stakes poker game. Soon Police Commissioner Wenk is on the trail of these masterminds and the question comes: “WHERE IS MABUSE?!”.

Lang’s direction makes sure the film never stumbles even during its long run time and its constant attention to storyline detail becomes more impressive the further the film unfolds. We see the dark heart of the criminals at work via the dictating orders of Mabuse, who is impeccably played by Rudolf Klein-Rogge. His expressive emotions turn the film one way then the other and at times he becomes so imperiously crazy with his widening eyes and wild hair that he rules the film via his omnipotence.

Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler deserves it iconic status and whilst its run time may be difficult to overcome, the film is a work of outstanding artistry that revels in its passion for the bad guys.

Extras: The new transfer looks and sounds incredible, invariably helping certain muddy scenes that struggled on previous releases. However, the subtitles do get over-layered with the original wording boards at times. The feature length commentary with Lang expert David Kalat is packed with trivia about the film and Lang himself; it’s one of the most informative commentaries you could find. In addition to that useful feature there are three complementary video pieces investigating the score, the creator of Dr. Mabuse and the films motifs in German silent film. All have something interesting to say but the best one is about Norbert Jacques, who created Mabuse.

Mark has awarded Dr Mabuse, der Spieler (1922) on Blu-ray four Torches of Truth

four torches

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