Frame by Frame Analysis – “M”

Fritz Lang’s masterpiece ‘M’ was released in 1931 in Germany.

I happen to think that one of the most powerful moments in the film, is during the scene with the trial of the kangroo court that the criminals put on after they catch the child murderer.

The first (medium) shot shows the murderer being forcably taken into a room at the bottom of a building. He stands at the bottom of the stairs, while two other criminals stand at the top. They block the door and show his arguments are useless. This is because they have the power in the stituation, because they are above him and look down on him. This happens literally in that scene and throughout the movie, where all the criminals looks down on him and the crimes he commits.

Then suddenly, the child murderer hears a noise! He spins around and then comes what I consider to be my favorite reveal ever (still medium shot)

The camera shows a (medium shot) group of criminals glaring at the child murderer.

They glare, as the camera pans, revealing more

and more

and more

and more

and more

and more

criminals glaring at the child murderer (in a medium shot). 

This moment is very effective because it creates this concept in the viewer’s head, that these aren’t people, these aren’t individuals, this is one big angry creature all directed at the child murderer. Which says a lot of the underworld of the movie, they are faceless and nameless and you don’t want them to have anything to do with you, nothing at all; and when they have a goal, they will band together to make sure that their goal gets accomplished. That inturn, helps makes his cries for help a little sympathic, as no one would want to have to face a creature like that, especially alone.

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3 thoughts on “Frame by Frame Analysis – “M”

  1. Ok I just simply love how you wrote that I totally got flash backs of the movie after reading that 😀
    I picked a scene from M too cause it’s such a great movie. The part where the hobos are following the child killer and girl down the street.
    Hey that’s not true, they so did have a face, a frowny face! 😀

  2. I think you could have gotten more detailed with your analysis, like using more shots, camera angles and all that nice film terminology stuff, but besides that, you brought up some good points- like instead of a bunch of angry human beings, it’s one big monster. I loved this scene, it was so creepy! And you could really tell how awesome Peter Lorre is as an actor here, his face is so perfectly pedophile/murderer haha.

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