LIFF28 - M - Cinema Review

'The way in which the director intricately unfolds his crime drama feels remarkably modern, with the likes of Fincher's Zodiac clearly taking influence from Lang's work here'.

The elements that are most striking within M are those which not only succeed in resonating in the modern day, but feel as fresh and avant garde - if not more so - than much of what contemporary cinema has to offer. M was director Fritz Lang's first foray into sound film, and the director takes every opportunity to experiment with his wondrous new medium.

Much of the sound within the film is crafted to incredible levels, Lang clearly fine tuning every effect and piece of dialogue. The director's choice of the first words we hear in M - a group of children chanting about a child killer as they play - gives Lang his first of many chances to experiment with sound in three dimensions, the children's chant growing fainter and louder as the action moves around where the children are playing. The director also makes uncanny use of silence at several points throughout his film, assuredly allowing specific scenes to play without any audio and creating tension more palpable than any soundtrack or sound effects ever could.

Visually, M is just as striking as it is aurally. Lang demonstrates once again that he is a true artist of film, with shot after shot offering breathtakingly impressive cinematic images. The director's use of shadows and reflections all through his film is ingenious, weaving these elements into his narrative whilst also employing them as a stylistic device that only makes M more and more to behold.

Lang's story too is not only gripping and expertly told from start to finish, but also feels completely relevant in the modern day. The director's depiction of a serial killer preying on children throughout Berlin, and the paranoia and hysteria created by both the tragic deaths and the hunt for the murderer, is flawless, authentic and utterly captivating. Lang's social commentary, in particular the parallels he draws between those enforcing the law and those living outside it, is both fascinating and entertaining. The way in which the director intricately unfolds his crime drama feels remarkably modern, with the likes of Fincher's Zodiac clearly taking influence from Lang's work here.

Considered by the director himself to be his very finest work, it's hard to argue with Lang's assessment of his own film. M stands tall as one of the greatest pieces of cinema ever created, whilst also consistently proving to be an accessible, engaging and thrillingly enjoyable film.

The 28th Leeds International Film Festival took place from 5th-20th November 2014 at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. More information is available via the official LIFF website.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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