Throughout the years, film movements, like "The French New Wave" and "The Golden Age of American Cinema," have all received praise for the many ways they influenced cinema, but none of them have had such a profound impact on one specific genre like "German Expressionism." "German Expressionism" has been incredibly influential to the Horror genre over time, narrative-wise and style-wise. Even earlier works and more famous works, like 1931's Frankenstein, present many aspects commonly found in any "German Expressionism." One of my favorite films and commonly referred to as one of the "greatest films of all time," The Night of the Hunter, was incredibly influenced by the movement. There were many masterpieces to come out during the movement, but by far, 1931's, M, has to be the greatest and most influential.
Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), a serial killer who's main target is children, causes an uproar of police activity in the city as they pursue a manhunt on him. It comes to the point where even a gang of criminals decide to find the killer. In the end, the gang succeeds and brings Beckert to a trial. During the trial, he confesses to his crimes but instead blames them on a mental illness he possesses.
One of the main reasons that M remains to this day such a masterpiece belongs to the film's use of sound. Sound in film was invented only four years before M's release and was mostly used for musicals. Fritz Lang, the director, instead used sound to both add atmosphere and suspense. Whenever Beckert plans on killing a child, he begins to whistle "In the Hall of the Mountain King," which further adds suspense to the scene. Apart from the influence Lang brought to sound usage in film, he shaped what most film historians call "The Modern Movie." Before M's release, most films didn't follow a conventional narrative but were instead just a string of events that produced a story. No film followed a "normal" narrative structure of rising action, climax, and falling action, and M was the first to follow and utilize it. Apart from the film's influence on cinema, it really is an outright flawless masterpiece. Lang's direction of scenes to add to the suspense and use the mind of the viewer, there's never any blood or murder scenes in the movie which leads the audience to think of their own way of what they believe might've happened, to add to the horror is remarkable. The cinematographer's phenomenal use of shadows further adds to the film's atmosphere and mood during the film. If you have yet to see M, you're missing out on one of the greatest films of all time.
Time Stamp: June 2020