You don’t need to see his identification

Obi-Wan Hitler! Or Adolf Kenobi, if you prefer. I needed to see HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS. I can’t explain why. Masochism? But it’s kind of rewarding…

At The Forgotten.

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7 Responses to “You don’t need to see his identification”

  1. Hitler is someone who just can’t be represented dramatically, and the fact is no one can improve on Chaplin’s Hynkel from THE GREAT DICTATOR. Richard Brody in the New Yorker (who I don’t always agree with), pointed out, “In her post about the profusion of “Downfall” parodies that turn up on YouTube, my colleague Amy Davidson asks, “Can Hitler be a proper object of humor?” I’d say that the evidence suggests a slightly different question: Can fictional representations of Hitler be anything but funny? The parodies have proliferated precisely because the footage they’re based on is already unintentionally ridiculous … So it’s not all Hitler’s fault that he’s become a regular riot.” Sokurov tried to do that in his film MOLOCH and he ended up over-aestheticizing it. And I think that’s also the case with Downfall which I don’t like at all, mostly because the narcissism of the star part i.e. great actor playing a serious big role and disappearing into it, ends up reinforcing the kind of man Hitler really was.

    There’s also the history to consider. All Hitler movies made before have presumed that there’s something serious to him. That he had a plan, a vision, and some kind of genius. The view of history we now have, thanks to Ian Kershaw, is that of a gambler on a hot streak who lucked his way through everything despite being lazy, unqualified, and without any merit other than giving good speeches, and surviving and over stuff that should have taken others down. So maybe you can do a movie about Hitler as a kind of picaresque daredevil who somehow cons and subverts the most developed and educated nation in continental Europe. It would of course need a film-maker of special cruelty and sadism towards mainstream tastes to do it. And you need to cast accordingly an actor who takes the part without any narcissism of playing a great role (which Guinness, Ganz, among others failed to do so). It would actually be amazing to do a movie like that, showing that Hitler wasn’t inevitable, that he could have been stopped at any time, and that there wasn’t many real excuses for people around him to enable or follow him.

    Because fundamentally the element of luck and being a gambler whose sense of daring subverts norms is the main quality that Hitler shares with the current POTUS. Basically Chaplin, and Fritz Lang (Dr. Mabuse the Gambler let’s not forget) were closer to who Hitler were then anyone else has been.

  2. Trump likewise seems inconceivable as a dramatic subject. These characters are malignant clowns that are unfortunately extremely powerful, but their vast success is so implausible that we can’t take them seriously. I liked Ganz as Hitler, but what you don’t get any sense of is why anybody would find this figure appealing. Since he’s on the decline, that’s not too serious a problem here.

    Guinness tries to illuminate the Fuhrer’s more avuncular side… which doesn’t work, but is probably accurate-ish.

    With Trump, we can see that precisely the qualities repellant to those of us who like democracy, decorum, dignity in high office, are appealing to others.

  3. The problem with Trump is that he is essentially the fulfillment of a cinematic prophecy. Citizen Kane for instance has a character who threatens Boss Gettys with a special prosecutor and poses as a populist despite being a billionaire. A Face in the Crowd is about a right-wing demagogue on radio whose sexism and machismo are finally exposed destroying his career…then you have Network, a movie which you can argue normalizes the kind of characters the earlier films were making fun of, via Howard Beale. The thing is all of those characters failed but Trump won. So if you are making the Trump movie and pattern it on Kane’s you are going to have to deal with the fact that the America that rejected Kane in Welles’ vision is probably not continuous to the one that accepted Trump. Scorsese’s THE KING OF COMEDY is the way to go…since that’s about how Rupert Pupkin despite all the things he does is finally validated and assimilated by society.

    Oliver Stone’s W, an underrated look at a mediocrity in power and trying to engage with portraying the guy while emphasizing that is the way to go. Though of course Stone believes that deep down Dubya wasn’t intentionally malicious, which I don’t know is a symptom of his conspiracist “bad advisor” that hampers his political vision, evident even in NIXON (which is a pretty good movie) where he tries to sympathize with Tricky Dick by giving a sense of bad people around a decent but flawed man. That’s actually a medieval mentality, peasant rebellions always said they were fighting bad advisors and not the King who is secretly on their side hence why Wat Tyler agreed to meet the King at a parley and got whacked for his naivete. This was also there in Stalin’s time where many of his victims in the Gulag and elsewhere believed that their predicament came from bad advisors and that if somehow they appealed to Stalin he would come and help them.

    Those are extreme examples but this does infect a lot of American political movies and portrayals of power. Stone makes Dubya by blaming Cheney or Rove, Nixon by blaming Ehrlichman or Kissinger or Hoover…when in actual fact Dubya and Nixon really did know what they were doing. In the case of Trump, I guess people might blame Putin or Bannon somehow rather than admit that a conman and low-grade individual really can con his way to the top.

  4. Frankenheimer made an excellent LBJ telefilm, The Path to War, which is a perfect bad advisor movie, but it does show the president’s own flaws making all the mistakes possible. I think Stone’s Nixon — garbled but interesting — shows him as more emotionally self-aware than he probably was, and I’m not sure they really try to make him seem a dupe… he’s not a villain, though, and that’s the film’s mistake, as with W. The guy editing the trailer for that one said, “Who wants to see a fair and balanced movie about George W Bush?” and duly cut the trailer as if the movie was a satire:

    Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime is the Hallelujah Chorus of its day: the sure sign of a film in trouble.

  5. Nixon movies, with Secret Honor at the top, always seem to invent a more appealing Nixon, because the real one was just a creep. But I’d like to see a movie about THAT guy. Again, it would probably have to be black comedy.

  6. This is by far my favorite Nixon movie:

  7. You’re not alone!

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