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Arnolfini - est 1961
Image: a still from Dr Mabuse by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung


One of the legendary epics of silent cinema and the beginning of a series of films that Fritz Lang developed up until the very end of his career. Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (1922) is an epic masterpiece of conspiracy that constructs its own dark labyrinth from the base materials of human fear and paranoia. So epic in fact, that German film studio Ufa had to release it in two parts!

Dr. Mabuse: Part 1: The Great Gambler: A Picture of the Time PG
Saturday 23 July, 1.30pm to 4.15pm
Part 1 introduces arch fiend Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), a gambler, hypnotist, master of disguises and all-around criminal mastermind who develops the economic upheaval and social bacchanalia at the heart of Weimar-era Berlin. During this time Mabuse also turns his attention to a new target, Edgar Hull (Paul Richter), the son of a millionaire industrialist who Mabuse hopes to manipulate for his own ideas of chaos. On the heels of Mabuse is State prosecutor Norbert von Wenk (Bernhard Goetzke) who dedicates all of his time and effort to tracking down the allusive Dr. Mabuse was the prototype for the sort of evil genius super-villains that would later become common in movies, whether it be in the James Bond pictures or in comic book adaptations like Superman and Batman.

Dr. Mabuse: Part 2: Inferno: A Play About People of Our Times PG
Saturday 23 July, 5pm to 6.55pm
Part 2 sees Rudolf Klein-Rogge return as the very dangerous Dr. Mabuse, the criminal mastermind whose nefarious machinations provide the cover for many a masterful crime set with the backdrop of Weimar Germany. A film of cold-blooded murder, opiate narcosis and cocaine anxiety, Lang’s film maintains an unrelenting power all the way to the final act which culminates in the terrifying question: “WHERE IS MABUSE?!”

Director: Fritz Lang Germany Germany 1922

Cast: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Aud Egede-Nissen, Bernhard Goetzke

A truly legendary silent film, Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler had a major impact on the development of the crime thriller, building upon the work of the pioneering French film serialist Louis Feuillade (Les Vampires) and firmly establishing it as a significant film genre.

This epic two-part tale was originally released as two separate films, respectively subtitled The Great Gambler and Inferno, and that format is reproduced over the course of these two screenings with live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.

Presented as part of Cinema Rediscovered and Bristol Ideas’ and South West Silents’ #Modernism2022. With support of the BFI Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery.