Sunday, April 05, 2009

Honourable Mentions – M (Graphic Novel)

Regular readers will recall that last year I honourably mentioned the Lang film M. The film was allegedly based on the crimes of Peter Kürten, the so called Vampire of Düsseldorf, although Lang himself denied it. Be that as it may, the film became a benchmark for all crime thrillers and is a stunning piece of cinema.

The vampire element might have been so vague as to be almost invisible, a blurred connection to a real life serial killer, but I was glad to be able to bring such a masterpiece of cinema to this blog that I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

This was a present from a friend, Ian - many thanks to him for it - and it is a graphic novel by Jon J Muth based upon the film (2008 edition, based on comics from 1990). I say based as it is, in some ways, different from the film in minor, but significant, ways. Obviously, being a graphic piece, it does not have the genius use of sound that the film had.

It is not a straight storyboard of the film either. Muth actually photographed each scene and then drew from the pictures, thus composing the frames. As a result he chooses to bring the level of viewing down to a child-eye level giving us more of an impression from the point of view of the victims. Also, Beckert sees his victims after the fact, as it were; they haunt him. We get an iconic image of a child, her throat cut, bleeding, speaking to him, arms outstretched, imploring. This was clearly more psychological than supernatural, incidentally.

However, despite the changes, this is still a recreation, in art, of the movie and lives or dies by the artwork… which is quite simply stunning. This, to me, is a graphic novel benchmark as much as the film is a cinema benchmark. Incidentally I noted that the customer reviews on Amazon UK attacked the book as the DVD was not with it. There is no indication I can find that the DVD was meant to ship with the graphic, indeed the graphic – despite being a beautifully bound hardback – is significantly lower in price than the standard DVD release.

One for the connoisseurs of graphic novels and classic cinema.

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