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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse(1933)
Berlin police inspector Lohmann investigates a case, in which all clues lead to a man, who's in a hospital for mental illnesses for since many years - Dr. Mabuse.
For more about The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray release, see The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray Review
Starring: Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Director: Fritz Lang
» See full cast & crew
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 12, 2012
Austrian director Fritz Lang's "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse" a.k.a "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" (1933) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment. The only supplemental feature on the disc is an audio commentary by film scholar David Kalat. The release also arrives with a lavish 52-page illustrated booklet featuring the words of Fritz Lang, rare archival imagery, and more. In German, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Legendary Austrian director Fritz Lang's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse begins where his Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler ends. However, familiarity with the first film and its story isn't required to enjoy the second film.
It has been eleven years since the evil Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) was captured. Once the leader of a powerful criminal organization, Mabuse is now locked in a secluded mental health facility. Unresponsive and unaware of his location, the old man spends countless hours drawing the blue prints for the "Empire of Crime", a grandiose project that might have cost him his sanity.
Mabuse is observed daily by the head of the facility, Professor Baum (Oscar Beregi Sr.). Like other men before him, Baum has tried but failed to understand how Mabuse's mind works. He has also been unable to decode Mabuse's complex drawings - which is why he has become obsessed with the old man's persona and legacy.
The city which Mabuse once controlled is rocked by a series of criminal acts and Commissioner Lohmann (Otto Wernicke) is promptly asked to deal with them. Soon after he begins his investigation, a disgraced cop (Karl Meixner) who has been working undercover to prove his innocence contacts him and offers to reveal the name of the man responsible for the chaos in the city. However, while speaking on the phone with Lohmann, the cop is attacked and seriously injured. Almost immediately, and much like Mabuse, he becomes catatonic.
Eventually, Lohmann learns about Mabuse and decides to visit the facility where he is locked. Much to his disappointment, before he could meet him the old man dies. But a frustrated criminal (Gustav Diessl) and active member of Mabuse's organization trying to protect his girlfriend offers to assist Lohmann. However, what he reveals to him confuses everyone - the man insists that Mabuse is still alive and, hidden behind a giant curtain in a strange room somewhere in the city, directing the different fractions of his organization.
In 1933, Lang shot simultaneously two entirely different versions of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. One was in German, the other in French and, excluding Klein-Rogge, with an entirely different cast. The German version of the film was immediately banned by Josef Goebbels, while the French version managed to find its way to a number of theaters across Europe (and eventually the U.S.). Eureka Entertainment's Blu-ray contains the original, and much better, German version of the film.
What makes The Testament of Dr. Mabuse so fascinating to behold is the fact that it is a very odd film, full of surprises. It has a notably complex narrative, very unusual structure, and an atmosphere that cannot be found in another film from the early '30s.
The film is structured as a series of episodes that continuously overlap each other, yet they are not introduced chronologically. Also, there isn't a central character that unites them. After Mabuse's death, Lang proceeds to align the scattered pieces of a large puzzle which constantly evolves, leaving the viewer guessing not only where the film is heading but whose story it is actually keen on telling. The result is something of a bizarre hybrid between Christopher Nolan's Memento and Christoffer Boe's Reconstruction.
The film's greatest strength, however, isn't its ability to convincingly tie all of the loose pieces of the giant puzzle mentioned earlier; it is the sense of paranoia it creates and sustains literally until the very end. All of the key characters look very suspicious and practically all of them seem to have some sort of a secret agenda. Couple this with the very unusual industrial sounds that pop up here and there, the long dark shadows, and the nagging feeling that something very bad is about to happen, and you have a very surreal and at the same time chillingly realistic film.
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a time capsule which has preserved the cold breath of Nazi Germany.
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.19:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Fritz Lang's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
The following text appears before the film's opening credits:
"Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse premiered on April 21, 1933, in Budapest. Originally 3341 meters long, the film had been banned in Germany. It wasn't until August 24, 1951, that the film was first shown in Germany in a shortened 2998-metre version. The original negative of that version survived at the Deutsches Filminstitut (DIF) but was severely damaged. Therefore, a 1951 duplicate positive from the collection of the DIF served as a basis for the restoration. Whenever possible, missing scenes from the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv and the Filmmuseum Munchen were inserted. In its present form, the film runs 3270 metres.
The film was restored by the Deutsches Filminstitut (DIF) in collaboration with the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, the Filmmuseum Munchen, KirchMedia and ZDF/ARTE.
Laboratory: L'Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna.
Sound Restoration: KirchMedia, Munich; Martin Sawyer Sound Services, London."
The basics are fairly strong. Most close-ups convey good depth, especially when there is an abundance of light (see screencapture #5), while the darker sequences, such as the footage from the basement in the beginning of the film, boast much improved clarity. Considering the age of the film, contrast levels are generally stable as well. Minor flecks and edge wear are occasionally visible, but none are overly distracting. There are specific scenes where light edge-enhancement sneaks in (see screencaptures #1 and 19), but more often than not it is extremely easy to tolerate. There are no traces of excessive degraining, but the grain is not evenly distributed and various minor fluctuations are often easy to spot. I believe that these fluctuations are also easy to tolerate considering the fact that detail is mostly quite pleasing. Finally, there are some inherited transition issues that are quite normal for a nearly 80-year old film. All in all, this is a fine upgrade that should please fans of Fritz Lang's film. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
I think that the various stabilizations and improved dynamic range in the audio department are every bit as impressive as the improvements in the video department. Excluding some light background hiss during selected sequences, the sound is now fuller and thicker. The heavy industrial noises in the beginning of the film, in particular, are far more effective. During the factory fire at the end of the film, dynamic movement is also improved. Obviously, there are some inherited high-frequency distortions during a few explosions, but these are source limitations. Generally speaking, the dialog is stable and easy to follow. The English translations is excellent.
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Fritz Lang's legendary film The Testament of Dr. Mabuse belongs in the collection of every serious film aficionado. It is a time capsule which reveals a lot about a dangerous era while it also manages to entertain. The film looks quite good in high-definition, and Eureka Entertainment's Blu-ray release also includes David Kalat's excellent audio commentary. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse: Other Editions
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray - August 8, 2012
British distributors Eureka Entertainment have officially announced and detailed their upcoming release of Fritz Lang's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933). The film will be available in a standard Dual Format and limited SteelBook editions. Street date is September ...
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Blu-ray Screenshots
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