M (1931, Ger.)

Screenwriter(s): Thea von Harbou, Fritz Lang

“Who Knows What It’s Like To Be Me?” – Confessions of a Homicidal Pedophile

Child-murderer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) delivered an agonizing “I must!” defense of his actions in front of an underworld kangaroo court:


What do you know about it? Who are you anyway? Who are you? Criminals? Are you proud of yourselves? Proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards? Things you could just as well keep your fingers off. You wouldn’t need to do all that if you’d learn a proper trade or if you’d work. If you weren’t a bunch of lazy bastards.

But I, I can’t help myself! I have no control over this! This evil thing inside me, the fire, the voices, the torment!… It’s there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It’s me, pursuing myself. I want to escape, to escape from myself. But it’s impossible. I can’t escape. I have to obey it. I have to run endless streets. I want to escape, to get away. And I’m pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers. And of those children. They never leave me. They are there, always there. Always, except when I do it. When I – Then I can’t remember anything.

And afterwards I see those posters and read what I’ve done. Did I do that? But I can’t remember anything about it. But who will believe me? Who knows what it’s like to be me? How I’m forced to act — How I must! — Must!– Don’t want to — Must! — Don’t want to, but must! And then a voice screams — I can’t bear to hear it! — I can’t go on, I can’t go on …