discussion board

“M”

This discussion board uses two movies, “M” and Minority Report to examine issues concerning the courts and criminal justice. While the classic German film “M” may seem hard to relate to because it’s so old keep in mind that most courses about film history would likely include this movie in its core syllabus.

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The movie tells the disturbing story of a German city that is desperate to locate the person who is killing children. Both the police and the criminals themselves, for different reasons, want to locate the murderer, and quickly. The police, obviously, are under great pressure from the public to locate the murderer. On the other hand, the organized criminal gangs are finding that the intense police investigations are hurting their operations and thus bad for their “business”. However, the gang bosses also feel that there’s a big difference, a moral one, between their criminal activity that’s largely for economic gain and the horrific crimes being committed by someone who kills children. So the organized criminal syndicate wants to locate and deal with the murderer before the police can.

While I encourage you to watch this classic movie in its entirety, the important part for this discussion board assignment is the section from 1:34:27 until the end, about 20 minutes. In this section of the movie the criminals have captured the murderer and are holding a “criminal’s court”. The scene title where this segment begins on a DVD version of the movie is called the “Kangaroo Court (Links to an external site.)”, a term used to give interpretation and meaning to the trial itself.

For the first part of this week’s discussion board evaluate the ideas the film portrays in this “trial scene” about criminal law, due process and courts. Describe the setting and generally what happens in the trial scene. Consider the following in your comments: What arguments are raised by the “prosecution” and the “defense”? How do you interpret the very final scene of the film after the police apparently appear at the trial? Your comments should make reference to specific details from “M”, especially the dialogue. Also, how does the fictional kangaroo court in M compare with the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird? Is Tom Robinson’s “real” trial any more legitimate than the one portrayed in “M”? You should be able to locate an enormous amount of material about M on the Internet if you need to do any additional research.

As you evaluate both movies, where appropriate, draw upon ideas and concepts in the assigned reading in the Carp textbook chapter 9 and 10.

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