New series M: A City Hunts A Murderer takes a chilling Expressionist masterpiece and sets the story amid the politics, fake news and immigration debates of current times.
In Lang’s 1931 film, co-written with his wife, Thea von Harbou, the police fail to hunt down a child-murderer, prompting other criminals to bring him to justice.
This contemporary take from writers Evi Romen and David Schalko, who also directs the series, opens with a mother sending her little girl back to the playground to retrieve her jacket, only to have her disappear under the gaze of a clown.
When her refugee parents behave suspiciously in the eyes of the police, the Minister for the Interior (played with relish by Dominik Maringer) seizes the opportunity to use the case to push his anti-immigration agenda.
As more children turn up dead, the media has a field day while the terrified city desperately hunts the serial killer. The usual suspects are all rounded up, angering the underworld as business is stalled while this tragic fiasco unfolds. Police chase down the wrong leads, leading the criminals, along with a posse of homeless, to take up the hunt for the killer.
Its dream-like aesthetic only further highlights the nightmare scenarios in M: A City Hunts a Murderer. Poking fun at the modern-day obsession with news and highlighting the constant surveillance we’re under and barely notice anymore, the series is strangely comedic at times. With its sexual content and full frontal male nudity, it is distinctly adult, too.
It’s the dead of winter, but the heat is on to finally track down the murderer.
M: A City Hunts a Murderer is now streaming at SBS On Demand, and will air on SBS later this year.
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