It’s an unfortunate truth about writing and film that shorter isn’t necessarily better, but longer is always worse. I have sat through longer films than this one, but the 7 hour running time alone nearly guaranteed that the film was bad. Then I watched the film and realized it was bad. The film is split up into 4 parts: 1. The Grail, 2. A German Dream Until The End Of The World, 3. “The End Of A Winter’s Tale” And The Final Victory Of Progress, and 4. We Children Of Hell Remember The European Age. Each part has some brief moments that are interesting or are worth seeing, but they are drops in a very large bucket.
The film is a dwelling on Hitler as a person. As a natural evolution of the darkside of humankind that has disappeared back into humankind after his death. The first part is an introduction of sorts, but not so much to Hitler as to how the rest of the film is going to be: boring and with a message that could be delivered in far less time and far more effectively. The second part is a lot of useless details about Hitler from his love for film to his choice of clothing that don’t really give us any insight into him. The third part gets to the Holocaust including a sequence where a dummy Hitler talks to us in different outfits showing Hitler still present in the world in different disguises. The fourth part is a lot of pointless reading of papers directly into the camera (like a large portion of the film).
Below are some screenshots that will give you an idea of the visual makeup of this film far more effectively then any words could.
|Doing Peter Lorre’s Speech From Fritz Lang’s M|
|A Dummy Hitler That Speaks And Is Shown In A Variety Of Different Outfits|
As you can see the film has a very theatrical look that evokes the feeling of a graveyard. Normally you do something like this if you are trying to use Brechtian distancing. It’s a misguided theory that says you should keep the audience at a distance from the plot and characters so that the audience can maintain a critical view of the subject. This leads to two things: extremely boring films and an inability for a film to help us understand anything about the human condition. If we are trying to understand Hitler as a real living breathing individual rather than some otherworldly monster, then doesn’t Brechtian distancing push us away from that goal? You can’t understand emotion from a critical view. You can’t understand an individual without their emotions. To look at Hitler from a critical view is to distance him from ourselves all over again instead of being able to see him in all of us.
If you want to get the important point of this film then do the following. Look for somebody trying to recapture past glories. Look for somebody who hates. Look for somebody who sees no division between the individual and the nation. Look for somebody who has claimed mob mentality or peer pressure as being responsible for their own actions. Look in the mirror. In all people, you will find Hitler. In this film, you will only find frustration. I can’t recommend it.