The Testament of Dr. Mabuse [2 Discs] [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1933]

For decades, legendary German director Fritz Lang's masterful crime saga The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was only viewable in truncated, foreign-language versions that blunted the impact of Lang's original vision. Now, thanks to The Criterion Collection release of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, audiences around the world will finally have the opportunity to experience this masterwork as originally intended in addition to having the luxury to compare it to the various alternate versions. Presented in 1.19:1 full-frame, the image is as close to flawless as one could humanly expect for a film of this age. Sporting only a slight amount of grain and just a modicum of flicker effect, the picture is both sharp and free of any notable dust or debris. Though the audio does contain a fair amount of hiss, it rings through bold and clear, making for a hearty presentation. Of course, any disc released by The Criterion Collection is likely to be judged just as much for the bonus materials it provides as for the quality of the feature itself, and this release easily maintains Criterion's high set of standards by offering some fantastic extras. It's hard to think of a candidate more deserving to provide audio commentary on this release than The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse author David Kalat -- and the self proclaimed "Mabuse expert" certainly earns his keep here. Kalat's track is both endlessly entertaining and overwhelmingly informative, with the breathless commentator never missing a beat in injecting an informative morsel of information. The inclusion of the French-language version of the film, entitled Testament du Dr. Mabuse (simultaneously shot by Lang using French actors) is certainly a welcome addition despite the sometimes shaky quality of the source print, and excepts from the 1964 documentary For Example Fritz Lang offer the dapper, monocled director reflecting on everything from his early career to an ominous offer from Josef Goebbels to head up the German film industry. "Mabuse in Mind" offers an extended interview with legendary actor Rudolph Schündler in which the affable screen veteran recalls the joy of being directed by Lang among other career highlights, and viewers can truly begin to appreciate the small but substantial differences between the German, French, and American versions of the film with a fantastic comparison between the three. The "Memorabilia and Stills" section of the disc offers such visual treats as posters, conceptual art, and the original German press book, and the University of Chicago's Tom Gunning offers a closer look at both the director and the film in some truly informative liner notes.
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Overview

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound, presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.19:1 for the first time
  • Audio commentary by David Kalat, author of "The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse"
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
  • Complete French-language version of the film, Le Testament du Dr. Mabuse, filmed simultaneously by Lang with French actors
  • Excerpts from "For Example Fritz Lang" (Zum Beispiel Fritz Lang), a 1964 interview with Lang, directed by famed German documentarian Erwin Leiser (Mein Kampf)
  • Mabuse in Mind (Mabuse im Gedächtnis), a 1984 film by Thomas Honickel, featuring an interview with actor Rudolf Schündler
  • Comparison between the 1933 German version, the French version, and The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse, the edited and dubbed American version of the film
  • Interview with German Mabuse expert Michael Farin about writer Norbert Jacques, creator of the Mabuse character
  • Rare production design drawings by art director Emil Hasler (M, The Blue Angel)
  • Collection of memorabilia, press books, stills, and posters
  • New essay by Tom Gunning, author of "The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity"

Synopsis

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
Fritz Lang directed this sequel to his nearly four-hour Dr. Mabuse silent of 1922 (often shown in two parts, Dr. Mabuse: Der Spieler/The Gambler and Dr. Mabuse: King of Crime). The film opens with Detective Hofmeister (Karl Meixner) spying on the activities of a criminal syndicate. Not realizing he has been seen, Hofmeister is attacked by the thugs and later turns up out of his mind. He is placed in the institution of Professor Baum (Oscar Beregi), who becomes increasingly obsessed with another patient -- the master criminal and hypnotist Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Baum's assistant, Dr. Kramm (Theodor Loos), connects Mabuse's writings to a series of the syndicate's recent criminal activities, and is murdered for his knowledge by crime lord Hardy (Rudolf Schündler) who takes orders from a hidden Mabuse. Putting all these pieces together is chief investigator Lohmann (Otto Wernicke), whose story plays out simultaneously with that of ex-cop Thomas Kent (Gustav Diessl), a member of the gang who is torn between his need for money and his love for a young woman named Lilli (Wera Liessem). Various clues lead Lohmann to suspect Mabuse's involvement, but when he arrives at the asylum, Baum reveals that Mabuse has died. Meanwhile, Kent's decision to confess to the cops lands himself and Lilli in a room with a hidden bomb. Lohmann traps the gang in a moll's house, leading to a wild shootout. Kent and Lilli escape and race to Lohmann to tell him that Mabuse is behind the crimes. They all race back to the asylum where they discover that Mabuse has taken control of Baum, who sets a monstrous fire at a chemical factory. The mad doctor then leads Lohmann and Kent on a wild car chase back to the asylum where the mystery behind the Baum-Mabuse-Hofmeister connection takes a disturbing turn. ~ Patrick Legare, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Rudolf Klein-Rogge - Dr. Mabuse
  • Otto Wernicke
    Otto Wernicke - Commissioner Karl Lohmann
  • Gustav Diessl
    Gustav Diessl - Kent
  • Image coming soon
    Wera Liessem - Lilli
  • Image coming soon
    Karl Meixner - Hofmeister
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