I just finished watching this strange movie, which I assumed would be all humor, based on the premise of… wait for it… Adolf Hitler! I know, humor is not the usual sentiment associated with the name. Naturally, after getting to know the premise of the movie, I decided to delve into it. I caught it on Netflix, which is streaming the movie.
The basic premise of the movie is simple. Adolf Hitler, through some cosmic coincidence, is transported across time, right before he dies, and is cast into the present world (~2014). The movie initially is boardy humor, as the Führer struggles to understand the changed world. A struggling TV free lancer, by the name of Sawatski, meets Hitler and joins in with him, thinking that this is a character he is portraying. Sawatski realizes that this crazy Hitler impersonator could be his ticket to greatness, and follows him around, filming his every move. The movie subsequently takes on the mockumentary style, and actual people, men on the street, end up on the reel. I was a bit surprised by the fact that many people, so unhesitatingly, comment on the state of the world, of Germany, of their own “radical” beliefs in the politics of xenophobia and narrow nationalism.
Hitler soon finds that he is a big hit with the social media, and starts reigning the TV screens as well as YouTube channels. The people are somewhat intrigued by him, and get caught up in the whirlwind of trying to understand what his crazy next move would be.
There is the expected crisis, a bit past the midway of the movie. Hitler is shamed on TV in front of a massive audience as a clip showing him shooting an innocent cute dog surfaces. He is shamed and shunned, and his show is taken off air. However, he uses this rejection and failure to fuel his “creativity” as he writes his “second great book”. The book soon goes to the top of the bestsellers list and the movie adaptation is made, with Sawatski at the helm.
When Hitler and Sawatski go to the house of Sawatski’s love interest, her grandmother recognizes Hitler. The change in the demeanor of the old lady, who is suffering from profound dementia, stirs something in Sawatski, and he goes back to study the movie clip where he accidentally filmed the moment of Hitler’s arrival onto the 2014 world. He realizes that this was the historical location of the Führerbunker, where Hitler was probably killed. In an instant flash he, realizes that the person he thought was masquerading as Hitler, was, in fact, the real deal… just as he had claimed all the while. This realization pushes Sawatski into a mentally frantic state and he is committed to a psychiatric hold… straitjacketed and put into a padded cell!
Meanwhile, the Hitler movie is about to release, and that is where the movie concludes. As the credits roll, the the movie hits home with the few words that Hitler speaks in his soliloquy. As he is driving by, he observes the unrest in people, the dissatisfaction with the ruling factions, the smoldering anger over the refugee crisis… and as the movie ends, Hitler is thinking to himsel: “I can work with this.”
This last moments of the film, where Hitler’s words and thoughts take us towards a chilling end, was a complete twist. This satirical take on the world where Hitler is reinvented really pulls the punches in the last few minutes. In the movie that is being shot on Hitler’s life, the actor playing Sawatski works out that Hitler is from another time, and the real deal (just like the one in the 2014 world). However, the movie Sawatski (I know this is getting a bit meta, hope you can follow along in the trail of my thoughts), unlike the real life Sawatski, does not go crazy, and instead, grabs a gun and tries to kill Hitler. After he shoots Hitler in the face, and the Führer topples off the top of a tall building, Sawatski is shaken and peers down past the edge, to try and see what happened. Much to his dismay, he finds no traces of a blood smattered body, and Hitler emerges from behind him, and emphatically says that he cannot be gotten rid of, as he is now a part of Sawatski.
The movie, which is also based on a book of the same name by former journalist Timur Verme, predicted the rise of the right wing thought that would happen all over the world. Through its satirical lens, it pushes us towards understanding how propaganda would work in such an interconnected world as ours. Even as Hitler rants and raves about the futility of the internet to promote cooking shows, I shiver a little. The power to mind-bend is perhaps stronger now than it ever was before.
In any case, a completely unexpected ending, quite reminiscent of Jibananada’s words:
অদ্ভুত আঁধার এক এসেছে এ পৃথিবীতে আজ
যারা অন্ধ সবচেয়ে বেশি আজ চোখে দেখে তারা
যাদের হৃদয়ে কোনো প্রেম নেই – প্রীতি নেই – করুণার আলোড়ন নেই
পৃথিবী অচল আজ তাদের সুপরামর্শ ছাড়া।