Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I love to watch old, old movies. Granted they aren't all good and I have to sift through a lot of them to find one that doesn't jar me too much with it's sappiness. Yes some of them are so sappy that I blush when I watch them. But once in awhile, I find a gem. But I'm interested in the past and I love watching to old silent films because I can learn about the past in a non-linear way by watching these films.

I've often heard people say that people were more innocent years ago. I'm not so sure about this as the following might reveal. Quickly, M is a 1931 movie directed by Fritz Lanz. It is about a serial killer who molests children and then kills them. The police are searching for the culprit and suspect that it is a member of a guild of thieves. The thieves, who are being harassed because of this, decide to catch the killer on their own. They do, and they put him on trial themselves. The following monologue is what Hans Beckett or the serial killer says when he finally breaks.

'It's there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there! It's myself, pursuing myself! I want to escape, escape from myself! But it's impossible. I can't escape, I have to obey it. I have to run, run, endless streets. I want to escape, to get away! And I'm pursued by ghosts! Ghosts of mothers and of those children......they never leave me. They are always there....always, always, always, except when I do it, when I.....then I can't remember anything! And afterwards I read those posters, and see what I've done.....and I read and read....did I do that? But I can't remember anything about it, but who would believe me? Who knows what it's like to be me? How I'm forced to act...how I must, must....don't want to, must. Don't want to, but must! And then a voice screams! I can't bear it! I can't go on, I can't, I can't!'--The words of Hans Beckett, serial killer, child molester, on trial, from the movie M.

Film makers today sometimes try to capture the visual look of films that were made during this time. But they never do. I'm not sure why. Is it because they can't? Or is it because they don't want to offend the modern eye too much. It's a shame because the older films can be visually fascinating.

Their equipment, which was primitive by our standards, forced them to use contrast in order to create an affect. When well-done, this can create fascinating visual affects. Often back then, actors weren't chosen for their beauty but for their photographic interest.hey used actors that we would not allow to grace our screens today. It seems they deliberately chose very homely people to play villains. I guess they still hadn't gotten over the influence of physiognamy.

It's a strange thing that very ugly face holds the compels the same visual interest as a very beautiful face. The people used in the trial scene were actual convicts and they are a very sinister looking group of volks. Long craggy, twisted faces that catch the light eerily. It's amazing how human beings can create art out of whatever they have at hand. As a matter-of-fact, I would venture to say that this type of film is more artistic than what they can do today.

Another notable thing about this film is that it was used as Nazi propaganda. Peter Lorre who played the serial killer was Jewish. They used his speech as evidence of the Jews tendency to depravity. He had to flee Germany.

Freud, another Jew, was also brought into this. As you might realize, a speech like that was made possible by Sigmund Freud and colleagues. Before the introduction of psychotherapy, people didn't say things like this, they didn't think this way. This was looked upon as a very bad influence on culture. Still is. Blamed on the Jews as well.

Early film is much more interesting than one might think.

This post is a first-draft. Please excuse typos, spelling errors etc....lazy today. Details suck!!