M (1931 Film) Quotes


“This will not bring our children back to life, people should take better care of their children”

One of the victim’s mother, spoken at the end of the Beckert trial

This quote perfectly reflects the erosion of public trust towards the government. The victim’s mother believes that even if the murderer has been brought to justice; it can do nothing to ease the pain of the victims’ families. This quote shows that the state is only good in punishing the perpetrator of crimes, but it has failed its duties in the prevention of crimes. The victim’s mother feels that the state authority cannot be relied upon in protecting the citizens; instead, the citizens must take matters into their own hands and to keep a more vigilante look on their children. This quote reflects the growing inefficacy of the Weimar government and the steady erosion of public faith towards this political order.

“People like you only have one right, to be killed… we want to neutralize you, that’s what we want, you will only be harmless if you are dead”

Schränker, spoken at the underworld’s kangaroo court

This quote is borrowed heavily from the Nazi rhetoric. The Nazis like to displace the society’s problems onto one ethnic group- the Jews. The Nazis feel that the problems plaguing German society could be only solved with the expulsion of the Jewish population. The director of M transfers the features of Nazism onto the characters of the underworld. The leader of the underworld Schränker also adopts a typical Nazi mentality, which is the willingness to displace a society’s problem onto a single person, which is Beckert. Instead of recognizing Beckert’s mental illness as a symptom of post-war German society, Schränker is completely incapable of sympathizing with Beckert’s illness. He is only interested in the elimination of Beckert. The underworld’s eagerness to eliminate Beckert shows that the German society was rapidly losing its humanitarian tendencies and was willing to endorse swift and radical responses towards their problems.

“every single square meter must be under constant vigilance”

Schränker, spoken at the underworld’s meeting

This quote sums up the underworld’s methods in hunting down the serial killer. The underworld has no patience with the traditional investigation methods. Instead, they adopt a new and radical method consisting of total mobilization and surveillance. The underworld’s total surveillance of the city proves to be an effective means of crime control. This radical method in crime prevention reflects on the inadequacy of the traditional investigation methods employed by the state. This quote further highlights the state’s increasing incompetence when it comes to hunting down criminals in the urban environment.

“You better forget about the cooperation of the citizens, just thinking about it makes me want to throw up”

Inspector Lohmann, spoken at the police’s meeting

This quote reflects inspector Lohmann’s contempt for involving the public in criminal investigation. The Weimar period witnesses an epidemic of serial killers. Whenever serial killing happens in the city, the public are overzealous to supply the police with information; but the information they provide tend to be useless and misinformed. At one time, the police had amassed several volumes of misinformation collected from the public. The misinformation supplied by the public serves no purpose and only sends the police into futile searches. Inspector Lohmann is acutely conscious to the unreliability of the public in legal investigation, and views the public as no better than paranoid rabbles.

“So you can appeal to paragraph 51, and be fed by the state your whole life, then you escape, or an amnesty is granted, and you can have fun, with a license to kill, as if nothing can happen to you…you’d come out for the children again"

Schränker, spoken at the underworld’s kangaroo court

The paragraph 51 refers to the clause in Weimar law in which a mentally unsound person can plead insanity and escape the death sentence. In history, some serial killers in the Weimar period were able to plead insanity and escape death. The underworld holds the paragraph 51 in contempt. The underworld’s contempt for paragraph 51 reflects the public’s lack of faith towards the legal system in Weimar Germany. During this time, many segments of the German population believe that the German legal system was weak and inadequate in protecting its citizens. Paragraph 51 allows criminals to escape punishment and sometimes reintegrate into society, thus once again posing a danger to the public. In M, the serial killer Beckert is very likely to have been tried under paragraph 51, and had escaped the death sentence.

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