Fritz Lang M: Analysis Essay

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Fritz Lang's M (1931), contains both dialogue sequences and silent sequences with music or sound effects. Lang edited the sound as if he were editing the visuals.
We are introduced to the murder in shadow when he speaks to a young girl, Elsie. We hear the conversation he makes with her, but we see only his shadow, which is ironically shown on a reward poster for his capture.
Lang then set up a parallel action sequence by intercutting shots of the murderer with the young girl's mother. The culmination of the scene relies wholly on sound for its continuity. The mother calls out for her child. Each time she calls for Elsie, we see a different visual: out of the window of home, down the stairs, out into the yard where the laundry
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Other cool tricks used by the Fritz Lang include heavy use of shadows (largely in the style of the yet to come Film-Noir genre), and the use of setting to create darker moods (evidence that Lang was at the head of the German Expressionist movement).

Lang used it sparingly and its silent sections are among the most dramatic. The purposeful sparseness of sound in the film lulls the viewer into a tranquility that is at various points abruptly disturbed by whistles, bells, and screams.

After seeing a mother nervously awaiting the return of her child, the film cuts to a little girl walking down the street, bouncing her ball. She bounces it against a wanted poster for the child murderer. The murderer's first appearance is his shadow suddenly looming onto the poster, the shadow appearing to speak as he asks the child her name, stressing his anonymity. Lang intercuts between Elsie's mother getting more and more agitated and the murderer buying Elsie a balloon and whistling, the tune getting faster and faster as he gets himself more worked up. Lang keeps cutting from where Elsie is to where she isn't, making very effective use of using inanimate objects and empty spaces to make Elsie's fate more horrifying. When Elsie's mother calls for her, Lang shows a number of still life shots in succession: the empty sinister staircase in a twisted spiral with shadows like prison bars, to the empty gloomy courtyard, to her place at the table set
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