Tuesday, November 22, 2005

M Is for Movie

M is for Murderer
M is for freakin' creepy.

So that didn't quite work out with the Sesame Street tune, but M is a old horror movie staring Peter Lorre' as a child killer.

What struck me about it was the very "CSI-Berlin"-circa-1931 feel to the beginning of the flick where they are searching for clues. Then a near-police state is created in an effort to find the killer. Because of the increased police presence, the criminal underworld goes on a hunt for the child killer. They are ticked off because the child killer has put a cramp in their day-to-day thieving and whoring. When they catch him first, they put him on "trial." Just as mob justice is about to take over, the police show up.

Just remember that when you exchange freedom for security, you are likely to have neither. Sure, initially you may feel safer, because you trust the police; but it is easy for them to abuse their power. Then you fear the state, as well as the criminals (who will always be out there). And because the state wants to control the populace, they have probably taken away one of the ways that you can defend yourself and family: personal firearms. Lang, the director, said that the message of the movie was for parents to watch over their children themselves---not to depend on others to do it for them.

The killer, Hans Beckert, sees himself as a victim. How can he stop doing what is just a part of him? How can he help himself? Something inside him drives him to kill. Haven't we heard that before? The mobsters don't buy it and say that he is better off dead at their own hands than in a prison where he will be evaluated as crazy and could be out in a few years---back on the streets to prey upon children---when the prison officials say he has been "rehabilitated." Again, the arguments haven't changed in over 70 years.

Lorre's child murderer is scared, small, and animal-like. You hate him the moment he comes on the screen. Compare that to the contemporary standard for a movie serial killer: Anthony Hopkins's Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, who is suave, charming, funny, and---in a twisted way---likable. It isn't that you are rooting for him. No, you hate Dr. Lecter too. You don't really see what he does or what he did, but his nonchalant description of eating liver with a chianti is more chilling than seeing Buffalo Bill shot to death, in my opinion. Both Beckert and Lecter are devoid of a moral center. How can they be human?