Fear, Paranoia, and Anxiety in M

First of all, I’d like to say that I really enjoyed this movie. I am not a big fan of black and white films and I think that is because I grew up watching color films and never had the motivation to watch black and white films. In this film especially, I noticed that the dark colors added to the sense of fear and paranoia in certain scenes. One scene where the use of lighting adds to the sense of fear for the viewer is the scene where the criminals are looking for the killer in the attic. The killer shuts off the lights so as to not be seen and the viewer has no idea what to expect, instilling a sense of fear within the viewer.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie was the scene in the office building. Being a very big fan of heist movies, this scene looked like it would be a perfect scene in a heist movie such as “Heat.” It had many elements of a heist movie including several criminals, a very devious motive, and it gave the viewers a sense of paranoia. I found it very ironic that I, as the viewer, found myself biting my nails throughout this scene while many of the crooks, who went into the building to capture the killer, did not seem to portray any sense of fear of the situation they were in; after all, they were chasing a killer. They seemed to walk into the building without any worries of being caught by the police. Once inside the building, the crooks freely walked around the building looking for a murderer. In the midst of all the fear and paranoia within that city, the criminals seemed to be focused on their mission to get rid of the killer in an effort to resume their “business.”


5 thoughts on “Fear, Paranoia, and Anxiety in M

  1. You raise a number of really interesting ideas here, Minhaj. It’s particularly interesting, to me at least, that you talk about having the “motivation” to see old films. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, old movies played on TV all the time. They still resonated very within popular culture decades after they first became popular. Some of the most popular, like the Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, were often the subject of parody in the old Warner Brothers cartoons that played on local TV stations right around the time school got out. Up until the mid 80s, it was not uncommon for kids to watch the same cartoons on TV that their parents and grandparents saw before the main feature in movie theaters.

    Here’s a good example that pokes fun at (now) old movie stars. This 1941 cartoon aired countless times during after school cartoon TV programming probably up until the the middle of the 1980s.

    I, for one, learned first about stars like James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall from old cartoons like this one and not first hand like people of my parents’ generation.

    While movies from the 1940s and 1950s still air on cable channels like Turner Movie Classics or will pop up occasionally late at night on PBS, they are certainly not etched into the cultural memory the way they once were. Exposure to films like Double Indemnity or D.O.A. does take a certain motivation as they now can seem dated and not as important as they once did and it is not surprising that, given a choice, many of you would choose to watch a crime thriller made within you lifetime rather than long before you were born.

    Ironically, though, it i s far easier now than it has ever been to see old movies. Netflix has a great selection of movies from most decades and many are available for streaming. Many of those now in the public doman can be downloaded or watched directly from the Internet Archive (archive.org). Here’s a link, for example, to Griffith’s controversial 1915 film The Birth of A Nation, considered to be the 1st great American feature. http://www.archive.org/details/dw_griffith_birth_of_a_nation

    Now it is that easy to watch an old movie but the question of motivation still remains. You can easily watch D.O.A. but would you want to if you were not enrolled in a film course.

  2. I loved these cartoons growing up, but I never truly appreciated the fact that these were caricatures of classic actors so much as I found the randomness amusing. I feel the excitement that the media creates in terms of build up for the release of modern films is a large contributing factor. The media and subsequently these films become part of our culture. Furthermore, films usually display features of the society and times they were made and, this holding true, would explain why we more readily watch modern films than “timeless classics.” However, I have always felt Disney movies did sincerely have a timeless element because the desire for escape into a fantasy land can resonate with any generation.

  3. I’d have to agree with Minhaj about not being much of a fan of black and white movies although I have started to like them a little more each day. Also, I think Minhaj brings up a great point that all of us in the class were raised up on watching color films, etc. I know that as a child, if I saw something black and white on television, I’d probably skip over it because at the time, I thought, if it wasn’t color, it was probably something boring. Color entertainment has somewhat spoiled our generation and very often does not allow us to enjoy black and white movies.

    In regards to the film “M”, I thought it was a great movie. I believe it was one of the better films before the Film Noir section of the class. I have to agree with Minhaj again about the building scene being one of the most suspenseful moments in the movie. To add to that, I thought that Berkert’s (the serial killer) monologue was very good. It was passionate and it attempted to show another side of the character. I was rather surprised about the ending though. I was hoping one of the mothers would stand up and shoot him but instead the police intervened. Overall, I thought “M” was a great movie.

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