Lang was not pleased with the governance of his country; therefore, he used his film “The Testament of Dr.Mabuse” to show the world how Germany was governed in the 1930s. According to the film, Lang symbolizes Mabuse and his gang as the Nazi movement. Mr. Mubuses seems to be the image of Hitler who is despised by a great number of people for the terror he brought to Germany. Through the film, he is a compellingly contemporary image of terrorism, a dictatorship. According to the film, Mabuse is a character who used blackmail, disguise, stock market manipulation and power of hypnosis to control people.
Lang did not base his story as that of the novelist Norbert Jacques; instead, he used this film to reveal the evils in the German government at the time to the public. This was the main reason why his film was banned. Although Lang’s films were Hitler’s favorites, this did not secure the film; instead, the government banned the film in the country. In the film, Lang reveals what he does not like in the Nazi movement. He resurrects the figure, which is DR. Mabuse, because of his prefiguring of the Nazi Movement. At the end of the film, Mabuse goes mad and his empire of crime collapses around him. Mabuse represents a terrorist, who in today’s world is depicted as a destroyer. He destroys the modern world of media and international networks. In the film, Mabuse lives throughout the recording and transmissions of technology of his voice. He was delivering messages, but his physical presence could not be traced; therefore, could not be seized.
Nazi Ideology and Overtone
In 1943, Lang wrote a screen foreword stating his original intention of the film. He stated that the film showed Hitler’s process of terrorism. In particular, it shows how the Nazi masked their evil intentions with the theory of necessity while they continued deliberately to destroy everything precious to the people. The main objective of Mabuse’s master plan was to create terror and chaos. The character’s behavior throughout the film brought out the master plan intended by Lang when creating the film. People have fear for blackmailing engenders and introduction of forged banknotes into the bank undermined the currency. There is destruction of crops and pollution of water. Epidemics affect some people and reduce their resistance to diseases. Mabuse’s ghost explains what the government meant by ‘Dominion of crime’ which it planned to create. The film tries to put out the hidden agenda of the Nazi, which is the same as that of Mabuse’s testament.
The Nazi saw the Jews, communists and homosexuals as enemies of the country. Therefore, the Nazi spread fear and terror to the Jews, communists and homosexuals; however, in the film, all people are included. Ten years down the line, there was the reincarnation of Mabuse as a ghost. Why does Lang return this figure after a decade had already passed, was the question on many people's minds. The figure of Mabuse symbolizes Hitler as a madman. Baum depicts this while lecturing a class, he bangs the bench with the flat of his hand. The banging of the bench by a flat hand is a gesture that Hitler used frequently. In the film, the gangsters are like the Nazis, who are loyal to their political organization.
The film uses the German expressionist movement which had lost its use after sound was incorporated in the film industry. Although German expressionism was rarely used in production of films, Lang combines it with sound. This influenced and challenged filmmakers in the field, especially in Germany. It led to the development of the film industry even after the government put a restriction, banning the importation of films from foreign countries.
In the film, some scene expressionist elements gained additional use by conveying a mental state in a vivid way. For example, it has been used to represent the pounding in the storeroom where Hofmeister was trapped. In the scene, the room shakes, since it is just adjacent to a printing press, but the noise is so intense that it depicts the man’s terror as extremely intense. Later, in another scene, expressionism has been used during the car chase. The Mabuse ghost is above Baum’s car instructing him on what to do.
In addition, expressionist effects are used when Mabuse the ghost possessed Baum. He hallucinates, especially when he sees a semi-transparent ghost of Mabuse facing him across his desk. Mabuse splits into two phantoms, crosses to the other side of the desk and enters Baum’s body, symbolizing how he gets possessed with the ghost. In this scene, the expressionist effect depicted what Baum’s mental and body experience was when subjected to the will of Mabuse.