1933 • Germany • Directed by Fritz Lang
With the etching onto glass of a single word – “MABUSE” – Berlin reawakens into a nightmare. Fritz Lang’s electrifying Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse [The Testament of Dr. Mabuse] is the astonishing second instalment in the German master’s legendary Mabuse series, a film that puts image and sound into an hypnotic arrangement unlike anything seen or heard in the cinema before – or since. It’s been eleven years since the downfall of arch-criminal and master-of-disguise Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), now sequestered in an asylum under the watchful eye of one Professor Baum (Oskar Beregi). Mabuse exists in a state of “catatonic graphomania”, his only action the irrepressible scribbling of blueprints that would realise a seemingly theoretical “Empire of Crime”. But when a series of violent events courses through the city, police and populace alike start asking themselves with increasing panic: “Who is behind all this?!” The answer borders on the realm of the impossible… Not only a follow-up to Lang’s earlier Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler. [Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler.], but also, with the presence of Otto Wernicke’s Police Commissioner Lohmann, a semi-sequel to Lang’s immortal masterpiece M, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse is itself considered by many to be Lang’s greatest achievement – a work of terrible and practically supernatural power that seems to have prophesied the implications of the Nazi scourge.