Fritz Lang’s “M” A Haunting Cinematography


In a similar fashion, the film by Fritz Lang’s “M,” conveys certain meanings via visual cues for example black and white cinema (for me anyhow)– appears to be more intense then color, it leaves more to the imagination.    In the opening scenes of “M,” the audience is purposefully drawn to pay attention to this little girl amongst a group of children.  Then as the camera follows a woman dropping off laundry, the camera pan’s in on a woman who is busy inside of her home.  The scene then begins to parallel back and forth from the woman who appears as if she is busy making lunch while doing other chores such as washing clothes and cooking.  As a viewer I would assume that the little girl is the woman’s daughter, of whom she is setting a place at the table for because the little girl has just got off from school.

However, at the same time the story takes a mysterious turn as the little girl is walking innocently home from school with not a care in the world , the only preoccupation on her mind is her bouncy ball.   However, the poster in the scene which her ball calls our attention to seems to be about a reward for a murderer (sorry my German is a bit rusty :-D_)   An ominous shadow is introduces and towers over the girl perhaps to mean some type of authority or evil presence even?   The reason being for this is because we only see the shadow talking to her, but the little girl we see no more for a couple of scenes.


The cuckoo clock in “M,” appears to act like a prop and precursor to the woman’s expectations.  Earlier in the film the cuckoo clock struck noon and she immediately paused and became happy to stop from her work and she was expecting someone.   The cuckoo clock’s significance is again emphasized when the time goes past noon and the woman’ open’s her door looking for her guest.

The irony of this is we don’t know who her guest is, we assume that it is the children coming home however, it could very well be the dark stranger (her husband?)

Mystery Man

I can’t help but think about how this man is such a big mystery to me.  I mean obviously the girl seems comfortable with him right?   But for some reason whether it is what the director wants you to think…he seems creepy or something just seems off about him.   For instance, even when he buys balloons for the little girl you still have yet to see his face.

mystery man_MCredit (1931 Fritz Lang’s “M”)

In addition to the building tension provided with the now allusive missing girls story line and the preoccupied older woman, we have to wonder and become more concerned as the director pushes this through his shots of an empty community  in the screenshots below


myster 2

Yet even in that instant, it is those subtle scenes which leave us with an unambiguous ending, where we see the ball roll out from an under brush.  Has the mysterious dark figure, abducted the young girl?  Maybe, one can only conclude this (based on the last screenshot; as the dark figure was the last to see her.)

the end

The ending kind of reminded of another HBO hit series The Sopranos, does Tony die? If so did the group of guys at the diner kill him?  Same thing with this short but highly detailed film “M,” is the little girl dead.  I think that the director is being clear without blatantly saying that this poor little girl has met her demise to some horrible Pedophile.

In essence, Lang touches on our real life nightmares , for me this short film would be considered a nightmare because every parent’s nightmare is losing their child.  I thought that Lang’s film conveyed this well–so well that even though it was in German, you were still able to understand what happened in the story!

I am hoping I can use this trait to successfully analyze this weeks wire episodes.