Doctor Mabuse

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Doctor Mabuse is a fictional character created by Norbert Jacques in the novel Dr. Mabuse der Spieler and made famous by the three movies director Fritz Lang made about the character; see Dr. Mabuse the Gambler. Although the character was designed deliberately to mimic villains such as Dr. Fu Manchu, Doctor Nikola, Fantômas, or Svengali, the latter of which was a direct inspiration, Jacques' goals were commercial success and to make political comments, in much the same way that the silent movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) had done just a few years previously.


Dr. Mabuse is a master of disguise and telepathic hypnosis known to employ body transference, most often through demonic possession but sometimes utilizing object technologies such as television or phonograph machines, to build a "society of crime". Mabuse rarely commits his crimes in person, instead operating primarily through a network of agents enacting his schemes. Mabuse's agents range from career criminals working for him, to innocents blackmailed or hypnotized into cooperation, to dupes manipulated so successfully that they do not realize that they are doing exactly what Mabuse planned for them to do.

Mabuse's identity often changes; one "Dr. Mabuse" may be defeated and sent to an asylum, jail or the grave, only for a new "Dr. Mabuse" to later appear, as depicted in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. The replacement invariably has the same methods, the same powers of hypnosis and the same criminal genius. There are even suggestions in some instalments of the series, that the "real" Mabuse is some sort of spirit that possesses a series of hosts.


He first appeared in the 1921 novel Dr. Mabuse der Spieler ("Dr. Mabuse The Gambler") by Norbert Jacques. The novel benefitted from unprecedented publicity and quickly became a best-seller. Lang, already an accomplished director, worked with his wife Thea von Harbou on a revision of the novel to bring it to the screen, where it also became a great success. The film Dr. Mabuse der Spieler (1922), with a playing time of more than four hours, was released in two sections: The Great Gambler: An Image of the Time and Inferno: A Game for the People of our Age.

After the great successes of the novel and the movie, it was almost a decade before anything more was done with the character. Jacques had been working on a sequel to the novel, named Mabuse's Colony, in which Mabuse has died and a group of his devotees are starting an island colony, based on the principles described by Mabuse's manifesto. However, the novel was unfinished. After conversations with Lang and von Harbou, Jacques agreed to discontinue the novel and the sequel instead became the 1933 movie Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, in which the Mabuse of 1920 (still played by Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is an inmate in an insane asylum but has for some time been obsessively writing meticulous plans for crime and terrorism—plans that are being performed by a gang of criminals outside the asylum, who receive their orders from a person who has identified himself to them only as Dr. Mabuse.


  • Dr. Mabuse der Spieler (1922), directed by Fritz Lang.
    • English title: Dr. Mabuse the Gambler.
  • Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933), directed by Fritz Lang.
    • English title translation: The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
    • The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse is a post-war edited and dubbed version of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse made for U. S. audiences.
  • Le Testament du Dr. Mabuse (1933), also directed by Fritz Lang.
    • A French-language version of the German original, filmed at the same time, on the same sets, but with a mainly different cast.
    • The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse is the 1940 American release title for this French-language version, with English subtitles.
  • Die Tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse (1960), directed by Fritz Lang, produced by Artur Brauner.
    • English title: The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse.
  • Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse (1961), directed by Harald Reinl, produced by Artur Brauner.
    • English title: The Return of Dr. Mabuse (literally; In the Steel-Web of Dr. Mabuse).
  • Die unsichtbaren Krallen des Dr. Mabuse [de] (1962), directed by Harald Reinl, produced by Artur Brauner.
    • English title: The Invisible Dr. Mabuse (literally: The Invisible Claws of Dr. Mabuse).
  • Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse [de] (1962), directed by Werner Klingler, produced by Artur Brauner, a remake of the 1933 movie.
    • English title: The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (literally: The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse), also The Terror of Dr. Mabuse and Terror of the Mad Doctor.
  • Scotland Yard jagt Dr. Mabuse (1963), directed by Paul May, produced by Artur Brauner.
    • English title: Dr. Mabuse vs. Scotland Yard (literally: Scotland Yard Hunts Dr. Mabuse).
  • The Secret of Dr. Mabuse (1964), directed by Hugo Fregonese, produced by Artur Brauner.
    • English title: The Death Ray of Dr. Mabuse (literally: The Death-Rays of Dr. Mabuse).
  • La Venganza del Dr. Mabuse [de] (1970), directed by Jess Franco.
    • English title: The Vengeance of Dr. Mabuse.
  • Docteur M (1990), directed by Claude Chabrol.
    • English title: Club Extinction.
  • Doctor Mabuse (2013), written and directed by Ansel Faraj.[1][2]
  • Doctor Mabuse: Etiopomar (2014), written and directed by Ansel Faraj.[3]


  • Kalat, David, The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse: A Study of the Twelve Movies and Five Novels, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2001, ISBN 0786423374.

External links[edit]


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  2. ^ The film is an original story and is not a remake of any previous Mabuse films nor is it connected to the originals. However Ansel Faraj said that there are a few homages to the earlier films, but these are done in a "different style than Lang".
  3. ^