Wednesday, 28 March 2007

The Strange Case of Dr Mabuse

I am not really sure what to say about this book by David Kalat except for that it is a must-buy / must-read for anyone with an interest in European cult cinema, charting as it does one of the earliest and most enduring characters within the field from his origins in the early 1920s as German Fantomas with Norbert Jacques' serialised novel and the first of Fritz Lang's three films featuring him - or at least the idea of Mabuse; the distinction is at once important and meaningless - through to his seeming demise - read irrelevance - with the end of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall mere months after Claude Chabrol's finished shooting his affectionate Lang hommage / pastiche Club Extinction in 1989.

Not only are the Mabuse meets the krimis of the post-Lang CCC productions in there, but also Jess Franco's characteristically idiosyncratic take on the character - praised, for all its faults by Kalat for at least getting our from under the shadow of Lang - and Ulrike Ottinger's avant-garde queer retelling in The Image of Dorian Gray in the Yellow Press.

Truly a labour of love, persuasively written, a pleasure to read and full of details that you never knew.

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