Friday, September 16, 2016

Er ist wieder da/Look Who's Back (2015)

It would be interesting to see how various historical figures would react to today’s world.  Would Johannes Gutenberg be impressed by how easily words are printed?  How would Jonas Salk react to the anti-vaccine movement?  There’s a Doctor Who episode that has Vincent Van Gogh looking at an exhibition of his work.  Plenty of common people have been pulled out of time in movies.  Just ask Bill and Ted.  Look Who’s Back wonders what would happen if Adolf Hitler suddenly showed up in modern Germany.

It starts with Hitler on the ground wondering what happened.  Where are his trusted advisors?  How did he end up in a park?  Not to far away, Fabian Sawatzki filming some kids for a project he’s working on.  His boss, Christoph Sensebrink, doesn’t like it.  In fact, Sensebrink fires Sawatzki.  It isn’t until later that Sawatzki realizes that he has Hitler on tape.

Sawatzki is able to find Hitler, knowing that he has something that might get him his job back.  He assumes, along with everyone else, that what he has is actually some sort of actor performing satire.  It's like how we all know Borat is really Sacha Baron Cohen.  Hitler obviously must be someone trying to make a point, however distastefully he might be doing it.  Sawatzki has no problem becoming his unwitting accomplice, filming Hitler around the country.  (They decide to make a political documentary.)

It’s a sensitive topic for Germany and the rest of Europe, so there is an inherent danger in doing this.  (Various movies have had problems filming Nazis, as they couldn’t show symbols of Nazi Germany.)  One person even approaches Sawatzki and Hitler to tell them how horrible they are for doing this.  This makes it all the more unnerving that Hitler never breaks character.  Then again, why would he?  He’s Hitler and he’s intent on getting back his former glory.

The movie does take a few liberties.  It is correct that Hitler didn’t do too well as an artist.  However, the movie shows him drawing poorly, whereas Hitler seems to have focused more on painting.  Also, Hitler is said to have possible suffered from Parkinson’s late in his life, with there being reports of his hand shaking.  In the movie, he seemed to be in relatively good health.  Hitler also seemed surprised in the movie that Germany had lost World War II.  He knew that things weren’t going well for Germany.  He eventually shot himself and his wife, Eva Braun, took a cyanide pill.

One statement that had me take to Google was where Hitler says that he was elected, implying that it’s the electorate’s fault.  I’ve heard that he wasn’t really elected, but this may stem from the fact that elections in Germany at the time weren’t what Americans would think of as an election.  His first few public offices seem to have been appointed.  He does seem to have gained office through elections, but it seems that in those instances, it had to do with the fact that his party had the most seats in the Reichstag.  Whichever party got a plurality/majority generally had their leader appointed chancellor.  (If someone can clarify, please leave a comment.)

This is not a movie for children due to the topic.  I’m not even sure it’s a movie for most adults.  This is one of those movies where context will carry a lot of weight and this is reflected in the movie.  In the movie, many Germans are shown interacting with Hitler, some of them saying that they might vote for him.  (I’m not sure if these are actors or actual people hoping to make the final cut.)  In one scene, an elderly Jewish woman recognizes Hitler and yells at him, as she knows exactly who he is and what he‘s done.

That, to me, is the irony of the movie.  There is a level of discomfort watching it.  Writers for a talk show are tasked with making racist jokes.  We feel uncomfortable as the writers go through a few of them.  We’re aware of the historical context, but someone who lived through it knows the context and will have an entirely different reaction.  It would be interesting to watch the movie with someone who lived through that era just to see what they thought of the movie.  (Again, I’d welcome comments.  I’m sure that a few things in the movie went over my head.)

I would say that those involved in the movie did well.   The political element wasn’t forced, but was used to show that Hitler could regain power.  If there’s one thing I’ve constantly heard about him is that he knew how to manipulate.  He came into power not by promising to kill people, but rather by promising a better life for people.  His tactics might be different, given that he didn’t have Google and YouTube in 1945, but his ambition would be the same.

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