Dr Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is the arch-villain to end them all. A master of disguise and mind control, he is behind all the biggest crimes of decadent 1920s Berlin—robbing trains, inflating the stock market, kidnapping young women and fleecing millionaires. Chief Inspector von Wenk (Berhnard Götzke) detects a pattern among these seemingly disparate crimes, and sets out to discover who is behind them—at his own peril.
Made five years before his best-known work, Metropolis (1927), Fritz Lang's Nietzschean tale of power and greed is set in the hazy cabarets, cocaine dens and back-room casinos of decadent Weimar Berlin.
Painstakingly restored from the 1922 original by Germany’s Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Dr Mabuse, The Gambler is considered one of the masterpieces of German Expressionist cinema. Directors Suite is proud to present both parts of the authorised restoration, The Great Gambler: A Picture of Our Time, and Inferno: Playing with Contemporary Man in this deluxe two-disc release.
"It's hard to imagine that the razor-sharp Kino DVD of Fritz Lang's first
magnum opus fails to capture any of the visual electricity and heady atmosphere
experienced by Berlin filmgoers in 1922. The film's historical importance to
the crime-film genre and its thematic relevance to the director's later work
have never been in dispute, but with only murky, choppy editions to go by, the
movie has largely been paid lip service for its legacy rather than appreciated
for itself. Now, thanks to this definitive restoration by the Murnau Institute,
we can properly see it and experience it.
Dr. Mabuse the Gambler is actually two films in one–or, more precisely, one film in two feature-length parts totaling four-and-a-half hours and conceived to be watched on consecutive evenings. Its title character is a criminal mastermind with the power and the will to orchestrate complex capers, counterfeit national currencies, manipulate the stock market, and hypnotically bend anyone to play a role in his diabolical designs. The hand of Mabuse seems to reach everywhere–for the excellent reason that the Doctor himself, a master of disguise, turns out to be just about anywhere at just the moment his intervention will wreak havoc and wreck lives. (He's played by Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who would repeat the part ten years later in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and also, in spirit if not in name, in Lang's dazzling 1928 film Spies; he was also the inventor Rotwang in Metropolis–as well as, offscreen, the former husband of Lang's screenwriter wife Thea von Harbou!)
The film's title in German is Doktor Mabuse der Spieler, and our supervillain is really less a gambler (all his games of chance are rigged) than a player: playing multiple roles, but even more importantly, playing with others' lives, playing with the very fabric of modern reality. The subtitles of the two parts are “A Picture of the Time” and “People of the Time”; the film is an artifact of the Weimar era when, as one character remarks, “We are bored and tired … we need sensations of a very special kind to remain alive.” Lang and his art directors, Otto Hunte and Karl Stahl-Urach, create a hallucinatory mise-en-scène in which the decor is at once stark and decadent, a playground for all manner of perverse spectacle and gamesmanship, a maze of corridors and doorways and streets where the modern and the gothic interlayer. This world ripe for Mabusian manipulation prefigured Hitler by a decade–and in one of his last declarations, the Doctor anticipates more contemporary visionaries of chaos: “I feel as a state within a state, with which I have always been at war.” Fritz Lang continues to be a chillingly prophetic filmmaker."–Richard T. Jameson
- 1.33 : 1
- Region 4
- Standard Edition
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Comments: UK Eureka Video 2 disk release, cardboard slipcase, different cover pic. Playable in Blu-Ray player.
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