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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Foreign > Germany > Thriller > Murder > Fritz Lang's 'M" (Region Zero/PAL Eureka! set)

Fritz Langís ĎMí (Region 0 - PAL/Eureka Video)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B+     Film: A

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: Since the issuing of this DVD import edition, this film has now been issued on Blu-ray in a better edition by Criterion and you can read more about it at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9859/Fritz+Lang

 

 

 

Reviewed here is Eureka! Videoís European release of Fritz Langís ĎMí.  An important film for several reasons, itís influence stretches on even today, as modern films are still pockmarked with inspiration culled from this feature.  To start with, it was Langís first foray into dabbling with sound in his films - up to this point, theyíd all been silent affairs.  It was also the film that set Peter Lorre up for larger fame; and although he already had a few credits to his name, none carried nearly the profile that this film boasted, and certainly none have remained as important as this.  However, this knowledge is fairly common; and historical facts aside, the biggest question this review hopes to answer is if Eurekaís edition of the film comes out mightier than what the Criterion Collection has mustered up for their release.  So, Iíll put most of my opinions on the movie itself aside for now and perhaps deal with them in another article.

 

The bare-bones outline of the movie is as follows.  A child murderer is quietly picking off the young residents of a German town, with no witness of the events to speak of.  The police are unable to find this criminal - leading the manís fellow criminals to hunt him down and hold him under a mock trial before handing out his fate for being the lowest of possible lows, even in their hardened eyes.  The way the entire movie is shot is beautifully done, and to see the end sequence is always riveting, no matter how many times the movie has happened to pass before your retinas.

 

Video quality here is good, and while I donít believe it to be perfect, it really beats out the earlier Criterion edition of the film, as this one pulls off a lot of improvements in general clarity and tone.  Eventually Criterion reissued ĎMí with even further improved picture quality that seems to have won out over all current editions of the film.  Some have noted that even the reissued Criterion has a rather cropped image in certain spots, and a quick peek at the comparison over at DVDBeaver.com yields this to be fact, and you can clearly see that the Eureka! disc sports a somewhat substantially larger view of the film.That now includes the slightly lighter Eureka! Blu-ray Region B release.

 

My one big complaint here is one that may be viewed upon with disdain from film purists, but Iíll say it anyway, as I believe others might be equally put off as well.  It is simply that Iím not a big fan of the effect you get on older TVs when a program incorporates a windowboxed image.  Itís true that you do lose a bit of the image on some or all sides of the picture when a movie is framed to utilize the full allotment of the screen.  However, windowboxing can also create a distracting effect that seems to distort the image even further around the edges when viewed on sets with rounded picture tubes.  If you have a newer flat-screen TV, you shouldnít have any distortion, but for those of us with older sets, it does create a mild problem.  There are a large number of people that will love this disc even more because of the chosen framing method, so it all comes down to personal preference.

 

It seems that there is pretty much a tie for this movie when it comes to sound.  Both the Criterion and Eureka! discs are monophonic, but the Eureka! version is Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, while the Criterion is Dolby 1.0 Mono. The audio track is serviceable though, and should get the job done - even though the 2.0 Mono is somewhat better.

 

As for extras, youíll find a substantial cluster of them here, including a full-length audio commentary track, interviews, and a documentary.  I donít believe that there is any overlap of bonus content between this edition and the Criterion, and if there is any, it includes none of the prominent features of either disc.  Film buffs who want all the info, covering all the angles of such an important film might consider it necessary to see both editions of the movie just to absorb all that they can from each.

 

In my opinion, a viewing of the reissued Criterion edition might be necessary, but due to certain flaws like the rather cropped image, Iím not sure Iíd fully recommend it for a purchase.  I donít think it can ever be completely ruled out though, as it does appear to be an excellent presentation of the film as well.  If youíre able to play imports, going for the Eureka! edition would be a wise choice, as everything is very well done here, and thereís no arguing against that.

 

 

-   David Milchick


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