Analysis Of Social Angst And Succumbing To Evil In Fritz Lang's M

1587 Words 7 Pages
Social Angst and Succumbing to Evil in Fritz Lang’s M In Fritz Lang’s film M, citizens of Berlin are horrified and on high alert due to a series of murders involving young girls. In the effort to locate and capture the killer, citizens from an array of backgrounds push the limits of morality and justice. Particularly, clear examples of social decay and human angst can be analyzed by exploring the actions of three key groups in the film: the police, the criminals, and the everyday people. An analysis of Asma’s theory that the emotional burden that the threat of monsters evokes causes people to behave in irrational, perhaps even monstrous ways is beneficial to understanding why citizens and police in the film turn on each other and view Hans …show more content…
Philip Zimbardo defines evil as “intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others” (5). While Hans destroys innocent others, it is not intentional in that he does not have full control of himself, but rather is victim to mental illness and society’s unwillingness to acknowledge and treat people with his type of disorder. However, the criminals do have control over their actions. The fact that they continue to live the life of crime strengthens the claim that they are evil when applied to Zimbardo’s theory of evil because the criminals are “knowing better but doing worse” (5). Moreover, the criminals are evil and hypocritical in that the majority of them want to kill Hans without a trial, therefore making him innocent—judicially speaking. The rest of the criminals are willing to wait for a bogus trial before killing Hans. The irony is that Hans is tried by criminals who one would think are in no position to judge. Using Zimbardo's theory, the evil and merciless behavior of the criminals is caused by the acceptance and encouragement of such behavior amongst the larger group. In other words, the criminals view their behavior as acceptable because everybody else is doing …show more content…
Specifically, it displays human angst, and the devastating effects it can wreak upon a society. Fear and paranoia cause people to think irrationally and view others as the enemy. Due to this angst people subconsciously let their emotions negatively dictate their actions and responses to what would otherwise be harmless encounters. The effect this has is a divided society that essentially exists in chaos. This is seen in the film through boundaries being overstepped, as seen with the police. A divided society is also seen when neighbors are pitted against each other, as seen through the anonymous tips and distrust by the populace. As is typically the case with social discourse, there is a domino effect. In the film, the domino effect would be the killer causing general paranoia, which leads to amplified police activity, which in turn leads to disgruntled criminals. The final collapse is the descent into evil that criminals succumb to. They dehumanize and devalue the life of the killer. They hypocritically give him a fake trial that would have inevitably resulted in his death had it not been prolonged enough for the police to arrive. As is typical of human nature, the crowd of criminals did not recognize the evilness of their ways because they were removed from guilt due to the group setting. However, Hans is saved by his fake defense lawyer, who sees the wickedness of his peers as well as feels sympathy for Hans and his

Related Documents