April 22, 1945 -Hitler admitted defeat;
April 30, 1945 -Hitler committed suicide;
April 1, 2016 – Hitler meets Netflix.
In this turbulent election year Netflix’s April 9 release of Mythos Films’ German satire based on the book of the same name by Timur Vermes, is either a bold choice or an epic miscalculation.
Whatever the case, the film, which has similarities to Sascha Baron Cohen’s 2006 send-up BORAT, could have been released on one of the April Dates associated with Hitler’s end for maximum bang. This was a sadly missed PR move for some added exposure that could have matched the book’s release in Germany, where the book price was 19.33 – a shrewd PR move- linking the book to the year he came into power…
Both the 2012 book & the film (titled in German -Er ist Wieder Da: He is Back…) were blockbusters in Germany, with the book breaking sales records & the film doing incredible box office. A combination of fish-out-of-water premise & mistaken identity film, the major premise here is that from the get-go Hitler always says he’s Hitler & yet no one believes him. 70 years after he was believed to have committed suicide – he’s taken for a comedian, political satirist, caricature artist…but never the world’s most notorious mass murderer.
With a grand slam performance by Oliver Masucci as Hitler, the film pushes the boundaries for racism & animal cruelty while simultaneously calling people out for being hypocritical, greedy, gullible & short-sighted. One tv exec in the film notes people’s embrace of Hitler’s policies towards humans but their horror at seeing Hitler’s Hitler-like behavior with a dog…
Sharing a page with films like ENCINO MAN & THE FIFTH ELEMENT, LOOK WHO’S BACK shows Hitler catching up with technology but unlike these other films, he immediately embraces the new methods of communication offered up by social media. He understands the importance of communication. This allows for comedic moments as well as a chance for the viewer to contemplate the impact the Web’s immediacy has on public opinion & action.
At times shocking, funny & abhorrent, the film, was shot in Germany before the massive Syrian influx into Europe & Germany broke all records in the summer & autumn 2015. Since the film’s release in Germany on October 8, 2015, Frontex, the EU’s external border force, has pegged the total land wave of non-visa holding Syrian immigrants at over 1,800,000 total for 2015.
The film itself is well written, superbly acted ,and finely shot, with seamless effects. It deals with major issues (including feeding the entertainment appetite of the lowest common denominator) while also winking its eye at the viewer, seemingly admitting it is pushing the same greedy, racist buttons as its protagonists do throughout the film.
But it also comments on the evil of Hitler’s actions, the complacency of the people who accepted his leadership, the repetition of history & the shared responsibility for maintaining a humanist’s integrity. It’s social & moral conscience is recovered in the character of Fabian and his realization of the truth of Hitler’s identity.
Hitler responds to this accusation about his identity by reminding his accuser that he always said he was Hitler & never said he was anyone else. True evil never does. Likewise, the film stays true to itself & never shies away from being what it is. Interesting movies never do.