September 17: M (dir. Fritz Lang)

Session Preview

We turn to a different medium in this session as we discuss Fritz Lang's classic film M . Though the film is considered a masterpiece by most scholars and audiences today, it had a different reception in 1931, since it clearly touched on notorious crimes of the day and took up the hot-button issue of the death penalty. We will discuss Lang's film in relation to the time in which it was made and in relation to film aesthetics. We will also have a workshop on how to undertake close analysis of a film and some of the terms and methodologies in film studies

Texts

M  (dir. Fritz Lang)

Ryan, " Fritz Lang’s Radio Aesthetic: M. Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder"

What to think about as you prepare for class

First Assignment (due Friday)

As you prepare for class, think about how Lang's film fits in with the other two texts that we have read to give a picture of the reception of crime in the Weimar Republic. Just as you picked out important passages in Döblin's and Kafka's text, identify some of the most important sequences in this film.

Second Assignment (due Monday)

As we prepare for class, let's get a discussion going of how the three major "actors" in this film -- the police, the gangsters, and the serial killer -- interact with and relate to one another. What comparisons and contrasts is Lang trying to draw between these groups? And let's go ahead and be completely reductive: Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys?

 

Sequence Analysis Worksheet

Use this worksheet to guide you on performing a sequence analysis