The “M” Scene

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by lleslieblog on 17-10-2011

A Film Analysis on “M”

Time of Scene 1:00:11 – 1:01:26

Can be officially viewed on Youtube’s OpenFlix Channel here.

8 Shots in Scene

1.  1:00:11 – 1:00:31

2.  1:00:31 – 1:00:37

3.  1:00:37 – 1:00:38

4.  1:00:38 – 1:00:43

5.  1:00:43 – 1:00:48

6.  1:00:48 – 1:00:53

7.  1:00:53 – 1:01:06

      8.  1:01:06 – 1:01:26

  1. Long Shot, Normal Height, Straight On Angle.  Hans Beckert and a young girl walk out of a shop and stop to face each other on the sidewalk.  There is no sound but they seem to be having a conversation.  Long.  Transition to next shot makes movement seem fluid.
  2. Close Up on Hans’ hand.  Straight On Angle.  Hans pulls out a switchblade.  Blade flips out.  The lighting is very bright and gives a strong glint into the camera.  Short.  Cut to next.
  3. Long Shot, Straight On Angle but the man shown is crouching so the camera seems slightly above.  A young man spying on Hans moves from behind an object.  Light is to his front, so his initial position behind the object is in the shadows and he ends up in the light (more so his face).  The man is in focus but a railing closer to the screen looks blurry.  Short.   Shot is fast forwarded (to make man’s movement look fast).  Cut to next.
  4. Close Up back to Hans’ hand, Straight On Angle.  Hans is pealing an orange with the blade he just took out.  Short.  Cut to young man.
  5. Medium Shot, Straight On.  Young man looks into his pockets, takes out chalk, and starts writing on his hand.  Short.  Transition to next shot makes movement seem fluid.
  6. Close Up on hand, High Angle.  Young man writes the letter “M” on his hand.  Focus on hand.  Floor in back is highly blurred.  Short.  Cut back to Hans.
  7. Long shot, Straight On angle.  Hans back is to camera but it is clear he is still peeling the orange while the girl waits when an orange peel drops on the sidewalk.  Young man walks on the screen and fakes slipping on a peel while landing his hand on Hans.  Hans drops his knife and jumps frightened.  The young man complains about Hans’ littering while walking of screen.  Short.  Transition to knife.
  8. Medium shot on knife to girl and Hans.   Higher Angle to Straight On Angle.  Camera starts on knife on the floor.  The young man can still be heard.  The girl picks it up and the camera follows.  The girl then hands the knife over to Hans as he looks nervous.  Both characters seem to be still and the camera shifts over to the back of Hans reveal and chalk mark “M” on his back.  Long.

This scene shows a constant cut between Hans Beckert and the young man spying on him.  Because of this, the film was able to make Hans look like he was about to commit murder which was quite frightening.  Changing between characters to manipulate the audiences’ emotions (mainly into suspense) was a common style repeated through the movie.

Fritz Lang probably switched between characters throughout the whole film to show the similarity between opposing sides.  This way of editing controls our thought about how characters that we would never agree with in real life should be treated equally to the characters we would.  I believe that this was Lang’s main message from the film.  The best example was the cops and crooks separate discussion over what to do about finding the serial killer.  When scenes like these happen, not only do they make us root for both sides, but the story feel fuller than if one straight dialogue happened.

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2 Comments Already, Leave Yours Too

jrocco93 on 20 October, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

I had a whole comment before but somehow this website sucks and deleated it… anyways im going to try my best and restate some of it because i dont remeber exactly what was said.

First off, this is my favorite scene in this moive! I like that we can get a feel from the director on what his point is/ what he’s trying to do at this part. The fact that he manipulates the audience into being uncertain who the actual murder is, is pretty cool. The whole part with putting the dirt on the hand in the shape of the letter M blatantly spells out SYMBOLISM… Your take on the shot by shot analysis was well done and right on point.

jrocco93 on 20 October, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

by the way the time of this comment is wrong lol… i sent this at 4:37 not 8:37 lol… this damm website

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