Spring 2016

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14 CINEMONTAGE / Q2 2016 by Edward Landler F rom a black screen, a circle of children fades in and the little girl at its center sings a counting- out song: Just you wait it won't be long The man in black will soon be here With his cleaver's blade so true He'll make mincemeat out…of…you. These words, in German, are the first spoken in Fritz Lang's M, as it premiered 85 years ago in Berlin on May 11, 1931. Depicting the hunt for a fictional serial child-killer, the movie was an immediate success in Germany and its initial distribution in Europe brought it almost universal acclaim as a classic. German audiences were familiar with the child's song, a popular rhyme about a real serial killer, Fritz Haarman, known as the Butcher of Hanover, convicted and executed in 1925. Three weeks before M opened, yet another, Peter Kürten, called the Düsseldorf Monster, was convicted on nine counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder; he was beheaded on July 2, 1931. The most prominent director in the German industry at the time, the Austrian Lang was attacked THIS QUARTER IN FILM HISTORY Expressionist Portrait of a Serial Killer M. Paramount Pictures/ Foremco Pictures Corp./ Photofest

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