Dr Mabuse, granddaddy of all evil cinematic masterminds from Goldfinger to Lex Luthor, crops up at three critical junctures in Fritz Lang’s career.
In 1922, as he was gaining international renown, Lang directed Dr Mabuse, The Gambler. It was subtitled A Picture Of Our Age and, in Mabuse – forger, murderer, possessor of sinister hypnotic powers – Lang and screenwriter Thea von Harbou personified the paranoid mood of post-WW1 Weimar Germany.
At the end of the film Mabuse, run to ground, goes mad and is taken away babbling incoherently. But he returned 10 years later, in Lang’s last film before quitting Germany as the Nazis took over.
In The Testament Of Dr Mabuse (1933) the evil genius, now seemingly catatonic, possesses the mind of his asylum’s director and uses him to resurrect his criminal empire.
As with its predecessor the plot frequently goes haywire, but the atmosphere of all-pervading, formless menace is chilling.
Back in Germany after 35 years, Lang made The 1000 Eyes Of Dr Mabuse (1960) as his final film.
Despite references to surveillance techniques and atomic weapons, the doctor seemed a hopelessly outdated figure and the film fell flat.
Eureka supplement their gleaming restored prints with a wealth of extras, including incisive commentaries from Lang expert David Kalat and no fewer than three chunky booklets.
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