M (1931 Film) Irony

M (1931 Film) Irony

Beckert’s knife

When the serial killer Beckert is talking to a little girl, he suddenly pulls out a switchblade out of his pocket. Upon seeing this knife, the audience thinks that Beckert is about to commit another murder. Since the potential murder instrument is being presented in an extreme close-up shot, the audience are inclined to assume that they are about to be presented with a graphic depiction of murder. Ironically, the knife which Beckert produces is not intended for murder, he simply uses the knife to peel an orange. This scene is very ironic, because the outcome is completely different from what the audience had expected. Upon seeing the knife, the audience anticipates a gruesome murder, but the killer only uses the knife to peel an orange. This irony is very Hitchcockian in style, because the director deliberately deceives the audience’s expectation with images.

the blind man who catches the murderer

In the film, both the police force and the underworld are searching for the murderers. Nevertheless, it is a blind man who discovers the identity of the murderer by recognizing the tune which he hums. It is ironic that a man without sight becomes the one who successfully identifies the murderer. This irony shows that the physical ability to see does not necessarily lead to perceptiveness. Most of the people in the film may possess the physical ability to see, but they are often paranoid rabbles who can only supply the police with misinformation. It takes an intelligent, clear-thinking and perceptive individual to identify the murderer, and that the mere physical ability to see may not be enough.

the police investigation

The police in the story leaves no stone unturned in their endeavor to hunt down the murderer. The police employ a huge number of personnel and expense vast sums of money in their endeavor to hunt down the murderer. The police’s time-consuming murder investigation is deeply ironic, because the underworld has already employed a much more efficient investigation method. It is ironic that the police are ignorant to the fact that the underworld has already put the entire city under their surveillance. It is also ironic that when the police are heavily engaged in their investigation and confident in the prospects of the success, they are ignorant to the fact that the murderer has already been apprehended by the underworld.

Beckert's character

Beckert is the child murderer of the story. A person who commits such abominable crimes should have been considered as the greatest villain of the story. However, as the story progresses, the director thwarts our expectation and gradually presents Beckert as a sympathetic and humane character. It is deeply ironic that the monstrous murderer should gradually develop into a humane character. Beckert slowly wins the audience’s sympathy because he is a victim of a mental illness who could not control his murderous acts. This murderer is in fact a kind-hearted person who is appalled by the crimes he commits. However, he suffers from uncontrollable compulsions which propel him to commit murders. It is ironic that the evil antagonist should slowly develop into the sympathetic protagonist of the story.

Mrs. Beckman’s enthusiasm in crime fictions

Early in the film, the audience learns that Mrs. Beckman is a subscriber of crime fictions. Her interest in crime fiction is perversely ironic, because her daughter is just about to be murdered by a serial murderer. This unexpected twist of fate will turn her interests in crimes against her. After the death of her daughter, Mrs. Beckman learns that crimes are not exciting media spectacles or sources of public diversion, but are heart-rending personal tragedies that wreak havoc on the victims’ families. It is ironic that fate punishes her fascination for crimes in the most brutal way.

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