The Criterion Collection just released Fritz Lang’s classic “Ministry of Fear” on DVD and Blu-ray, giving cinema lovers another one of Lang’s masterpieces in a prestigious edition. In the film, a man is released from a mental asylum in England during the second World War, only to accidentally stumble upon a Nazi spy plot, where he then tries to stop it.
The movie is a Film Noir, and has a typical structure for the era as a innocent man is suddenly, and unexpectedly, thrown into a dangerous situation in which he has no idea what is going on. In this case, the released mental patient, Stephen, wins a cake only to find numerous people want to get that cake away from him. When people start to die around him, he has to find out why they want his cake before he is framed for the murders.
Based on the novel by Graham Greene, Lang’s directorial excellence is on great display here. The story is a bit uneven at times and borders on ridiculousness as far as the plot contrivances are concerned, but Lang’s mastery of Noir expressionism helps make the entire film tense as he embeds it with a strong sense of paranoia that makes each twist and turn feel just right.
The movie, shot in black and white, looks amazing in this Criterion Collection Blu-ray release, and the fact that it is almost 70 years old, proves to be another impeccable job by Criterion when it comes to restoring and cleaning up a classic masterpiece.
Unfortunately, there is only one major special feature on the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of this movie. “On Ministry of Fear” is an 18-minute video interview with Joe McElhaney, an author and the biographer of legendary director Fritz Lang. In this interview, McElhaney talks about Lang’s Hollywood career and how he was seen among his contemporaries at the time. He also talks about Lang’s structure in his films, specifically with his protagonists and how it can be compared to those of Alfred Hitchcock. He finally discusses the adaptation itself and how it differs from the original source novel.
Other than that, the only other special features on the “Ministry of Fear” Blu-ray is the trailer and a booklet with an essay by Glenn Kenny.
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