“He looks the same. He says the same things. And back then, people were laughing at first, too.”Großmutter Krömeier
Perhaps watching this film on an election day was an error, its satirical perspective on the ease with which populism returns hitting far too close to home. It is only in the last few decades that Germany has started directly to address rather than censor Nazism in its media (most notably with Bruno Ganz’s remarkable performance in Downfall). Yet a German comedy about Hitler remains a bold move, even if a book provides the source material. The majority of the film is scripted narrative, with Hitler suddenly waking in modern Germany. As a comedy, it is sporadically funny. Its strength lies in unsettling parallels with real world populism as Hitler becomes a TV sensation — the audience finding they agree with some of his points so overlook or forgive his more despicable statements. Ultimately, they turn on him only when it comes to animal — rather than human — cruelty. The greatest impact comes from (apparently genuine) sequences of “Hitler” interacting with members of the public whom we see drop their guard to reveal disquieting views. This is the template perfected by Sasha Baron Cohen, although here it is used sparingly and without the intention of provoking specific responses. Perhaps the limited extent of these sequences should provide some comfort — one only hopes that it was difficult to find more people willing to express those views.
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