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Testament of Dr. Mabuse
     

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

Director: Fritz Lang

Cast: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke, Gustav Diessl

 

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For decades, legendary German director Fritz Lang's masterful crime saga The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was only viewable in truncated, foreign-language versions that blunted the impact of Lang's original vision. Now, thanks to The Criterion Collection release of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, audiences around the world will finally have the opportunity to

Overview

For decades, legendary German director Fritz Lang's masterful crime saga The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was only viewable in truncated, foreign-language versions that blunted the impact of Lang's original vision. Now, thanks to The Criterion Collection release of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, audiences around the world will finally have the opportunity to experience this masterwork as originally intended in addition to having the luxury to compare it to the various alternate versions. Presented in 1.19:1 full-frame, the image is as close to flawless as one could humanly expect for a film of this age. Sporting only a slight amount of grain and just a modicum of flicker effect, the picture is both sharp and free of any notable dust or debris. Though the audio does contain a fair amount of hiss, it rings through bold and clear, making for a hearty presentation. Of course, any disc released by The Criterion Collection is likely to be judged just as much for the bonus materials it provides as for the quality of the feature itself, and this release easily maintains Criterion's high set of standards by offering some fantastic extras. It's hard to think of a candidate more deserving to provide audio commentary on this release than The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse author David Kalat -- and the self proclaimed "Mabuse expert" certainly earns his keep here. Kalat's track is both endlessly entertaining and overwhelmingly informative, with the breathless commentator never missing a beat in injecting an informative morsel of information. The inclusion of the French-language version of the film, entitled Testament du Dr. Mabuse (simultaneously shot by Lang using French actors) is certainly a welcome addition despite the sometimes shaky quality of the source print, and excepts from the 1964 documentary For Example Fritz Lang offer the dapper, monocled director reflecting on everything from his early career to an ominous offer from Josef Goebbels to head up the German film industry. "Mabuse in Mind" offers an extended interview with legendary actor Rudolph Schündler in which the affable screen veteran recalls the joy of being directed by Lang among other career highlights, and viewers can truly begin to appreciate the small but substantial differences between the German, French, and American versions of the film with a fantastic comparison between the three. The "Memorabilia and Stills" section of the disc offers such visual treats as posters, conceptual art, and the original German press book, and the University of Chicago's Tom Gunning offers a closer look at both the director and the film in some truly informative liner notes.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was Fritz Lang's second sound film and a sequel to his enormously successful 1922 silent. Mixing several genres including cop drama, mystery, and horror, Lang created a rare hybrid picture full of striking characters and images. Lensed simultaneously in French and German, Testament details a three-pronged story: one about a crime ring run from behind a curtain by the evil Dr. Mabuse, a second about a guilt-stricken member of Mabuse's gang who has fallen in love, and a third about a determined detective who is stumped by the strange case. Marked by Lang's brilliant camerawork, the film connects the dots with a number of excellent scenes that culminate in one incredible sequence that jumps back and forth between two thrilling escapes: a couple trapped in a room with a ticking time bomb and the criminals stuck in another building with cops outside the door. In another memorable scene, a doctor who has connected Mabuse to the crimes is gunned down in heavy traffic when the killers use their horns to provide a noisy cover. The exciting car chase featured in the film's climax -- led by the evil doctor in his Mercedes -- was one of the first of its kind. Performances are very good across the board, but Otto Wernicke really steals the show as Detective Lohmann, a character Wernicke also played in Lang's 1931 classic M. Rudolf Klein-Rogge is sufficiently creepy in the part of Mabuse (he also played the Mabuse role in Lang's silent Dr. Mabuse), although his performance is limited to a handful of brief scenes and some chilling double-exposure shots in which his spirit steps out of his body to do its evil work. Co-star Rudolf Schündler, who plays the psycho gunman Hardy, later appeared in Dario Argento's Suspiria. Testament was later cut into a 75-minute, dubbed version that was titled The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse. Lang revisited the character of Mabuse in 1960's The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, which turned out to be his final film.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/18/2004
UPC:
0037429187227
Original Release:
1933
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
2:01:00
Sales rank:
47,369

Special Features

New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound, presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.19:1 for the first time; Audio commentary by David Kalat, author of "The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse"; New and improved English subtitle translation; Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition; Complete French-language version of the film, Le Testament du Dr. Mabuse, filmed simultaneously by Lang with French actors; Excerpts from "For Example Fritz Lang" (Zum Beispiel Fritz Lang), a 1964 interview with Lang, directed by famed German documentarian Erwin Leiser (Mein Kampf); Mabuse in Mind (Mabuse im Gedächtnis), a 1984 film by Thomas Honickel, featuring an interview with actor Rudolf Schündler; Comparison between the 1933 German version, the French version, and The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse, the edited and dubbed American version of the film; Interview with German Mabuse expert Michael Farin about writer Norbert Jacques, creator of the Mabuse character; Rare production design drawings by art director Emil Hasler (M, The Blue Angel); Collection of memorabilia, press books, stills, and posters; New essay by Tom Gunning, author of "The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity"

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rudolf Klein-Rogge Dr. Mabuse
Otto Wernicke Commissioner Karl Lohmann
Gustav Diessl Kent
Wera Liessem Lilli
Karl Meixner Hofmeister
Theodor Loos Dr. Kramm
Gerhard Bienert Actor
Camilla Spira Juwelen-Anna
Heinrich Gotho Actor
Heinrich Gretler Actor
Karl Platen Actor
Paul Rehkopf Actor
Franz Stein Actor
Michael von Newlinsky Actor
Hadrian M. Netto Actor
Bruno Ziener Actor
Paul Henckels Lithographer
Oskar Hocker Bredow
Georg John Baums Diener
Theo Lingen Karetzky
Klaus Pohl Muller
Rudolf Schundler Hardy
Ludwig Stossel Arbeiter
Josef Dahmen Actor
Oscar Beregi Prof. Doctor Baum

Technical Credits
Fritz Lang Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Thea von Harbou Screenwriter
Emile Hasler Production Designer
Karl Vollbrecht Production Designer
Fritz Arno Wagner Cinematographer

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc 1
1. Forger's Factory [7:21]
2. Matter of Life and Death [5:50]
3. The Case of Dr. Mabuse [5:58]
4. Etched in Glass [3:45]
5. 20 Marks [4:34]
6. "Closed From 10 to 2" [5:22]
7. License Plate IA-74259 [2:49]
8. Mabuse's Puppets [5:18]
9. New Perspective [7:05]
10. The Man Behind the Curtain [5:24]
11. "Ma-bu-se?" [8:48]
12. Empire of Crime [5:51]
13. Kent and Lilli [6:41]
14. Brand-New Life [6:34]
15. Closing In [7:47]
16. The Man in the Shadows [9:36]
17. Someone Else [6:22]
18. Mechanical Reproduction [3:43]
19. Chemical Factory, October 15th [5:04]
20. "My Name Is Mabuse" [7:04]
1. Introduction [7:21]
2. Editorial Rhymes [5:50]
3. Expressionism and Dr. Caligari [5:58]
4. Real-Life Lohmann/Power of Words [3:45]
5. The Novel of the Film of the Novel [4:34]
6. Writing Fragments/Jigsaw Stories [5:22]
7. The Unreliable Soundscape [2:49]
8. Lang's Greatest Myth [5:18]
9. Hangmen Also Die/Anti-Nazi Subtexts [7:05]
10. Mabuse as Screenwriter [5:24]
11. Historical Parallels/Lang's Dictatorial Direction [8:48]
12. Thea Von Harbou [5:51]
13. The Man Who Knows/Sadomasochistic Love Story [6:41]
14. It's All About the Money [6:34]
15. Film Noir/Destiny [7:47]
16. Cast and Crew Notes [9:36]
17. There Is No Mabuse: The Second Climax [6:22]
18. Severing Messages From Messengers [3:43]
19. Fritz Arno Wagner Shooting at Night [5:04]
20. The Meaning of "Mabuse" [7:04]
Side #2 -- Disc 2
1. Forger's Factory [5:46]
2. Matter of Life and Death [5:51]
3. The Case of Dr. Mabuse [5:22]
4. Etched in Glass [3:44]
5. Kent and Lilli [1:24]
6. Dr. Kram [4:21]
7. License Plate IA-74259 [2:32]
8. Mabuse's Puppets [3:14]
9. New Perspective [4:32]
10. Behind the Curtain [6:42]
11. Empire of Crime [8:19]
12. Brand-New Life [3:15]
13. Closing In [9:59]
14. The Man in the Shadows [8:37]
15. Someone Else [7:57]
16. Mechanical Reproduction [1:16]
17. Chemical Factory [3:31]
18. "My Name Is Mabuse" [7:02]

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