The Testament of Dr. Mabuse - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ July 11, 2018
A film which works on many levels - as a detective story, a supernatural thriller, Expressionist art, and lastly, as an ominous warning about those preying on man's fear to unleash chaos and disorder upon the world. That last bit was so relevant in Germany in the 1930's that it got the film banned by Joseph Goebbels, and it's still relevant today. Director Fritz Lang gives us lots of fantastic images, and the editing style which cuts to different elements which are playing out in the story feels very modern. The acting is excellent across the board, with the inspector (Otto Wernicke), asylum doctor (Oscar Beregi), and the sinister Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) all standing out. We get clever work on the part of the police, including some early forensics, and clever work from the bad guys, including pretty cool gadgets on top of the mind control. The love story subplot is small but Gustav Diessl and Wera Liessem make the most of it, with a lovely embrace when she finds out just how much trouble he's in (but loves him anyway), and with a fantastic escape scene.

The ability to control people's minds, to bend them to one's will, to force them to be obedient or to die - it has elements from other movies of the day (Dr. Fu Manchu comes to mind), but it's particularly chilling here. As Mabuse puts it, "The ultimate purpose of crime is to establish the endless empire of crime. A state of complete insecurity and anarchy, founded upon the tainted ideals of a world doomed to annihilation. When humanity, subjugated by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime." This is a true villain, and Lang makes the most of the story. The pace is excellent and never drags over its two hour run time. It's a sequel of course, but stands very well on its own, and is highly entertaining.
May 12, 2018
Maybe the greatest political thriller ever made, more so because it doesn't SEEM like one. Lang's not-so-secret message to the German public went sadly but unsurprisingly unheeded. Shortly after the film was suppressed by scumbag Nazi authorities, Lang left his homeland and traveled to Hollywood, USA, where he became one of the greatest practitioners of the film noir, and offered a number of surprises before the end of his long career.
½ July 6, 2017
Brilliant sound film, direct sequel to the original Dr. Mabuse movie. Many so-called cliches were heavily borrowed from this movie, starting from the outstandingly played by Otto Wernicke grouchy yet brilliant inspector Lohmann to the soul-possession device that suggests the super-human, even supernatural, powers of Dr. Mabuse.
Super Reviewer
½ September 24, 2016
Despite pacing issues, a confusing ending and how we are usually too many steps ahead of the characters, it isn't hard to understand why the Third Reich, which was a nationalist regime that strongly defended order, banned this thought-provoking crime film when it came out.
½ May 13, 2016
There is such a joy I get when I watch the crime or noir films of Fritz Lang. Here's a man that truly understands evil. Though I have yet to see all of his Mabuse works, I can't wait to see every single interpretation--both by him and others--of one of my very favourite cinematic villains. Furthermore, I greatly relish seeing the works of great filmmakers who use subtlety and cleverness to get their art out in the most difficult of circumstances, using their craftsmanship to take pokes at the oppressive regimes they are working under (i.e., Eisenstein, Lang, the Czech New Wave, Jafar Panahi). Essential for any fan of the genre, and worth both purchasing and rewatching if you, like me, are a work of a remarkable director at the pinnacle of his profession.
October 7, 2015
This is one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a while, astonishingly from 1933. It's a very interesting idea and a tense look into the mind and its horrors. Lang was a master of the psychological thriller.
½ January 17, 2015
A great sequel to the Der Spiegler. Raw and explosive, yet mysterious, and givien its time and place (1933) it's sharp as a knife.
Super Reviewer
November 21, 2014
Further fine work from Lang and yet more evidence of how ahead of his time he was.
October 23, 2014
Now this is a spooky movie, but it's a different kind of spooky. Banned by the Nazis upon its release 'Dr. Mabuse' uses its story of the hunt for an illusive criminal mastermind to examine the mechanics of terror(ism) in the modern age. 80 years later the film is still sharply done & surprisingly relevant
½ July 2, 2014
Shorter but to the point, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a great sequel that is quite tense, interesting and features some memorable characters. Another Fritz Lang classic.
February 26, 2014
Interesting in places, but ultimately very boring and confusing, when all is said and done. Huge disappointment.
December 7, 2013
My Favorite Thriller Film Is 1991's The Silence Of The Lambs.
½ October 5, 2013
one of fritz lang's creepiest pix was originally 124 minutes but the restored version runs 121 minutes it is all they could find
September 24, 2013
Honestly, the best response I can offer to this film is the classic Internet line "What is this I don't even." It's an early sound film from the German master filmmaker Fritz Lang, and as weird as his classics M and Metropolis are, this film is definitely weirder. The overstuffed, confusing plot involves a psychic criminal mastermind who commands an "empire of crime" from within his cell in the mental asylum and is able to possess other people and, later, appear as a ghost. There's also a lot of shooting, and a factory burning down, and a room flooding with water, and a bomb that takes three hours to go off for some reason. It's possibly the weirdest film I've seen from the 1930s. I don't really know what else to say about it.
½ June 17, 2013
Banned in Germany in 1933 by no other than Josef Goebbels
March 27, 2013
Compared to most films in Hollywood in the 1930s, Fritz Lang's mystery thriller The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is years ahead of the game in terms of plot and camera techniques. There are some shots in this movie that would not be seen until Orson Welles' famous Citizen Kane, which forever changed the cinema. However, I think it's safe to say that Lang was doing the same thing in Germany at the time when Nazi rule was in the wake. In this complex and filling story, a veteran criminal with a brilliant mind has been in an insane asylum for ten years yet is writing memoirs that seem to predict crimes happening outside. The Inspector Lohmann attempts to solve this case, not knowing how strange and convoluted it really is. Despite the complexity of it, this film is rather easy to follow and boasts some great performances and use of sound. Considering this was only Lang's second film using sound, it is a wonder he did what he could with it. The movie opens with a noisy print shop and a man hiding behind a huge trunk. The loud and obnoxious noise of the printer continues all throughout the scene and shows what sound can really do to a film. All in all, Lang shows his pioneering ability to use the resources available in ways no one had thought of at the time. There are hints of German Expressionism here, but mostly just a well-told and engaging detective story that certainly will not age any time soon.
February 6, 2013
Bizzare, unruly, and quintessential.
½ January 25, 2013
Like a lot of old movies The Testament tells rather than shows. Still pretty good though.
½ November 11, 2012
Although I was told Testament is the best of Fritz Lang's three Dr. Mabuse films, in my opinion, it's the worst in the series. Even Lang's late project 1000 Augen which combines early agent/spy film elements with his distinctive style had more appeal than the surprisingly unambitious Testament.

Compared to the first entry of the series - the magnificent Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler - Testament lacks the scope and finesse of the first film - although it had all the possibilities of sound.
Speaking of sound, compared to Lang's first sound film M, Testament is a step backwards with some really bad sound decisions that result annoying or misplaced sound effects.
I also found the perfectly crazy Rudolf Klein-Rogge who reprises his role as Dr. Mabuse underused. Instead the main characters are Professor Baum, the director of the asylum where Mabuse is incarcerated, Kent, a totally useless character in my eyes who seems to only exist to include a love story (the other part of the couple is Wera Liessem as Lilli, who is just really really bad) and Kommissar Lohmann (Otto Wernicke in a role he already played in M) who is arguably the most interesting character in the movie.

Dr. Mabuse films are mostly about the schemes of the main villains and although Testament is above-average compared to similar movies, we have all seen far better and more twisted movies.
October 26, 2012
The specter of Dr. Mabuse terrified me in this film. Suggested to be an influence on Nolan's Joker.
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