Mittwoch, 15. Mai 2013, 15:00 - 16:00 iCal

Richard Dyer (King's College, London): THE SHADOW OF M:

Serial Killing and Nazism in Film

Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft, Schreyvogelsaal
Hofburg, Batthyanystiege, 1010 Wien


Serial killing is an extraordinarily rare form of murder and yet it has been widely taken to be symptomatic of the societies and historical moments in which it occurs. Even though there are strong reasons not to equate them, serial killing has often been seen to be at one end of spectrum of which the Nazi mass exterminations are the other. This presentation explores these two issues in representation through the example of the film M.

M has been a constant reference point since its release in 1931, not least through the use of the image of the killer’s shadow. M has been seen as symptomatic of the cinema and society of the Weimar Republic, including in debates about whether Weimar gave birth to Nazism. It is often an irresistible source of imagery for films dealing with serial killing in both the Weimar and the Nazi eras. It has been used to distinguish Nazism from serial killing (not least, but not only, by Nazi propaganda) and to suggest a continuity between them. In the range of uses, and often their contradictoriness, these films raise the question of what is at stake of wanting to make the connection at all.

Films to be touched on include Der ewige Jude, Die Mörder sind unter uns, Der Verlorene, Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam, Le Vampire de Düsseldorf, Die Zärtlichkeit der Wolfe, Dr. Petiot and Hitler: ein Film aus Deutschland.


Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft


Isolde Schmid-Reiter