Pay no attention to that Mabuse behind the curtain

I half-jokingly pondered the other day if Professor Baum, the Mabuse substitute in THE TESTAMENT OF DR MABUSE, was named after L. Frank Baum, but, you know, the more I think about it…

Oz gets everywhere. Mabuse appears as a big floating head at one point in DER SPIELER — of course the Victor Fleming MGM film hadn’t been made yet (it’s only six years in the future, but feels like a whole other eon of filmmaking) — but the Baum book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, existed, and when Dorothy and her friends visit the wizard in that, he appears differently to each of them. Shades of RASHOMON. But Dorothy sees him as a giant head.

Baum is surrounded by heads in his study — African masks and actual deformed skulls, some of unusual size.

And of course, there’s a man behind the curtain. That’s what Baum is, effectively. The petty human disguising himself as a big head. Oh, but Baum is also a partial anagram of Mabuse. Probably that’s it. He’s an Alucardian alias. But any good character name ought to have at least two possible rationales behind it.

Still, interested to hear if any Mabuseians out there in the dark can see any more possible connections, apart from the flying monkeys of course.

3 Responses to “Pay no attention to that Mabuse behind the curtain”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

  2. Brian Wall Says:

    For Michel Chion, Oz and Mabuse (at least in his Testament manifestation) possess vast power by virtue of being voices without bodies…..

  3. Yes, something that’s only possible once sound comes in. The first movie’s Mabuse has to be hypnotic and present a lot, often disguised (failing to delegate).

    The movie Oz giving the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man EMPTY SIGNIFIERS in place of the organs they crave is very on point for him. Oz and Mabuse themselves are empty signifiers.

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