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Doctor Mabuse

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Title: Doctor Mabuse  
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Subject: The Bloody Red Baron, Mabuse, Fictional psychologists, Peter van Eyck, Fictional telepaths
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Doctor Mabuse

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 pulp magazine 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.


  • Description 1
  • History 2
  • Cultural influence 3
  • Other depictions and references 4
  • Filmography 5
  • Literature 6
  • External links 7
  • References 8


Dr. Mabuse is a master of disguise and telepathic hypnosis. Mabuse rarely commits his crimes in person, instead operating primarily through a network of agents implementing schemes he has planned for them. Mabuse's agents range from career criminals working for him, to innocents blackmailed or hypnotized into cooperation, to dupes manipulated so successfully 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 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: Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, an Image of the Times and Inferno, People of the Times.

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.

Cultural influence

Writer Charles Stross considers Mabuse a candidate for the first supervillain and sees him as the forerunner of Ernst Stavro Blofeld from the James Bond series.[1]

The Dark Knight (2008) features a version of The Joker inspired by Mabuse. Throughout the film, the character recites monologues promoting chaos and disorder, which borrow heavily from Mabuse's in 1933's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse.[2] Director Christopher Nolan has stated: "I think I made Jonah watch Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse prior to writing the Joker."[3]

Other depictions and references

The German musical group Propaganda released their debut single, "Dr. Mabuse" during 1984, as a tribute to the character; the song was also part of their debut album, A Secret Wish, during 1985. The German band Blue System released a song named "Doctor Mabuse", as part of the album X-Ten, during 1994. The song was also released as a single.

Jean-Marc Lofficier wrote Superman's Metropolis, a trilogy of graphic novels for DC Comics illustrated by Ted McKeever, the third of which was entitled Wonder Woman: The Blue Amazon, with the plot derived partly from Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler. The character of Mabuse was combined with Wonder Woman villain Doctor Psycho. The character of Dr. Mabuse inspired Wong Jing's 1989 movie God of Gamblers.

Dr. Mabuse was mentioned as a member of Die Zwielichthelden (The Twilight Heroes) in the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, along with Doctor Caligari and Professor Rotwang. He also appears in Nemo: The Roses of Berlin, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.

In Kim Newman's The Hound of the D'Urbervilles, a collection of short stories featuring meetings between characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories and their literary contemporaries, one chapter revolves around a struggle for supremacy between Doctor Mabuse and Professor Moriarty. Mabuse also appears with his fellow silent movie characters in Newman's novel The Bloody Red Baron, in which he, Caligari, Rotwang, Count Orlok and others attempt to create the Red Baron.

The Brazilian musician and designer H.D. Mabuse has used this name as his pseudonym for more than 20 years. The name "Mabuse" is used as a pseudonym by a fictionalized version of Fritz Lang in Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa.[4]

The Swedish hip hop group Looptroop make reference to Doctor Mabuse in the title track of the album Modern Day City Symphony (2000).


A new independent film, Doctor Mabuse, written and directed by Ansel Faraj, had its world premiere on April 27, 2013, at the Coronado Village Theater in San Diego, California. The film stars Jerry Lacy as Dr. Mabuse, with his Dark Shadows co-stars Kathryn Leigh Scott as Madame Von Harbau, Lara Parker as Madame Carrozza, Nathan Wilson as Inspector Carl Lohemann, and Linden Chiles as Inspector Von Wenk.[5] The film is an original story inspired by the character of Mabuse.[6] On November 1st, 2012, the first teaser trailer for the film was released online.[7] On May 9, 2015 - the film was released to watch on YouTube, free of charge. [8]

Doctor Mabuse: Etiopomar, again written, directed and produced by Ansel Faraj with Jerry Lacy, Nathan Wilson, Linden Chiles, Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott reprising their roles, is currently available in video-demand format on Vimeo.[9]


  • 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

  • Doctor Mabuse (2013) official site
  • Doctor Mabuse (2013) on IMDB


  1. ^ Stross, Charles (2006). The Jennifer Morgue. pp. afterword.  
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  6. ^ The film is an original story and is not a remake of any previous Mabuse film, nor is it connected to the originals. However Ansel Faraj said that there are a few homages to the earlier films, but they are done in a "different style than Lang".
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