One of the legendary epics of the silent cinema — and the first part of a trilogy that Fritz Lang developed up to the very end of his career — Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler) is a masterpiece of conspiracy that, even as it precedes the mind-blowing Spione from the close of Lang’s silent cycle, constructs its own dark labyrinth from the base materials of human fear and paranoia.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge plays Dr. Mabuse, the criminal mastermind whose nefarious machinations provide the cover for — or describe the result of — the economic upheaval and social bacchanalia at the heart of Weimar-era Berlin. Initiated with the arch-villain’s diabolical manipulation of the stock-market, and passing through a series of dramatic events based around hypnotism, charlatanism, hallucinations, Chinese incantations, cold-blooded murder, opiate narcosis and cocaine anxiety, Lang’s film maintains an unrelenting power all the way to the final act… which culminates in the terrifying question: “WHERE IS MABUSE?!”
A bridge between Feuillade’s somnambulistic serial-films and modern media-narratives of elusive robber-barons, Lang’s two-part classic set the template for the director’s greatest works: social commentary as super-psychology, poised at the brink of combustion. —Eureka Entertainment
Born in Vienna in 1890, Fritz Lang was brought up in Viennese middle-class comfort by his Roman Catholic father Anton and his Jewish mother Paula Schleisinger who both hoped that young Fritz would become an architect. But like so many middle-class children of the new century, Lang was fascinated by the pulp and fantasy literature of his day, the art world both in and outside Vienna and a potent new form of entertainment that invited artistic scrutiny and craftsmanship, the motion picture. Though the teenaged Lang attended school as his parents wished, he secretly haunted the cafe’s and cabarets of Vienna and intended to become a painter like his idols Klimt and Schile. At aged 21 Lang’s yearning took him to Paris where he lived in Bohemian splendor until the outbreak of W.W.I. Returning to Vienna, Lang enlisted in the Austrian army where he repeatedly saw combat, was wounded at least three times and decorated twice.
It was while on leave recuperating from one of these wounds… read more
To watch Lang's epic two-part crime saga in one four-and-a-half hour sitting as I did is a challenging but indelible experience. My absorption was never less than total as I became engrossed by the criminal landscape of Berlin in the 1920's created by Lang and his collaborators. Klein-Rogge plays master criminal and master of disguise Mabuse, pursued by dogged state prosecutor von Wenk. Rich. Rewarding. Masterpiece..
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Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Dr. Mabuse in Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922).
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