Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Oskar Beregi, Gustav Diessl
Fritz Lang, Norbert Jacques, Thea von Harbou
German (English Subtitles)
Eureka Entertainment (Blu-Ray)
Dual Format DVD/Blu-Ray; HD Transfer of the film in original aspect ratio, in 1080p on Blu-Ray; Original German-language intertitles; Audio Commentary w/Fritz Lang expert David Kalat; Lavish booklet featuring the words of Fritz Lang, rare archival imagery and more
BUY THIS BLU-RAY
For the first time ever, Fritz Lang's 1933 classic The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is available on Blu-Ray thanks to those incredible folks at London's Eureka Entertainment. Eureka has assembled a truly masterful package here for their "Masters of Cinema" series, a remarkable effort that somewhat resembles the Criterion Collection that American cinema connoisseurs seem to more embrace. One can only hope that those in the know pay close attention to what's going on with Eureka, because their growing collection of magnificent cinematic restoration efforts is nothing short of remarkable.
While The Testament of Dr. Mabuse may not necessarily qualify itself as a cinematic masterpiece, the film by Fritz Lang is a historical classic largely because of its timing of having been released on the heels of the Nazi domination of Germany. The film almost eerily seems to foresee this future for the nation, and it's not surprising that it was banned from exhibition in Germany because of the negative ways in which it portrayed a German society that had become overwhelmed by crime, fear and poverty. The film's central portrayal of Dr. Mabuse, a character obsessed with the destruction of German society, is haunting on its own but downright disturbing when considered in historical context.
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is the second installment in Lang's Mabuse series, a series that beautifully utilizes the relatively new technology of sound that had only recently come to light when the film was originally released in 1933. Lang may very well be known more for his silent film masterpiece Metropolis, but when one considers the newness of audio technology in 1933 it's hard not to be in awe of this film.
In this film, it has been eleven years since the downfall of arch-criminal and master of disguise Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), who now exists in an asylum under the watchful eye of Professor Baum (Oskar Beregi). Mabuse, it would seem, exists in a state of "catatonic graphomania" and a world of oblivion that bears only his markings of bluprints manifesting a theoretical empire. However, when the city is gripped by a series of violent events, police and the public are left to wonder who is to blame and to imagine "What if?"
What if, indeed?
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a stark film, a film that seems to express that evil will always exist even if one form of evil is eliminated. Yet, the film so beautifully blends reality with the supernatural that it's difficult to not get swept up into its vision.
While the Criterion Collection released this film restored on DVD in 2004, this is the first Blu-Ray edition of the film in the world and it's a must have for any true cinema connoisseurs.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic