Based on the bestselling novel Er ist wieder da (released in 2012, also known in English as Look Who's Back), the film tackles the sensitive subject of making fun of Hitler. In Germany, that was long thought a taboo subject. Simply because Germans were too ashamed of what this man has done to our country and how much pain he has caused throughout the world.
See for yourself how this film succeeds at being a hilarious comedy while at the same time giving us some serious food for thought…
In 2014, almost 70 years after committing suicide, Adolf Hitler (Oliver Masucci) awakes on a parking lot in the middle of Berlin. He is initially pretty confused about the futuristic times he finds himself in: A woman now rules the country, he has to go to the Turkish dry cleaners and it's all far too multicultural for him! But then, Hitler discovers all the amazing new mass media outlets, such as the Internet!
Although everyone recognizes him, no-one believes he is the real Hitler. Instead, the Germans think he is a comedian or method actor and find him hilarious and charming. Through the technologies of the day, such as appearances in TV shows and reviews on YouTube channels, Hitler quickly gains massive media attention.
It seems like even in 2014 nothing can stop Adolf Hitler from rising to significant power once more…
In the film, Hitler awakes on the site of the former Führerbunker (In den Ministergärten, 10117 Berlin, now a car park). This is where the real Hitler was hiding from the approaching allies in the final days of WW2 and where his corpse was burned after he committed suicide.
Somewhat ironically, you'll find this site just behind the Holocaust Memorial. Today, there is nothing that would remind passers-by of the former Führerbunker, which also served as the film location for The Downfall. I only found out that the Führerbunker was here because I took Sandeman's Free Walking Tour of Berlin and the tour guide stopped by to tell us the story.
In the film, an aspiring journalist regards the resurfaced Hitler as the perfect subject for his "big breakthrough story" and takes the former dictator on a road trip through Germany. On the streets, they meet real people – both those that are totally averse to the recurrence of Hitler and those who regard Hitler as the perfect guy to finally "clean up".
What I really liked about this film was that you could laugh as much about Hitler as you could with him! There is, for example, the scene in which he talks to a representative of a right wing party in Germany. While this man is talking, Hitler is showing him he's clearly not impressed by falling asleep on the man's shoulder!
Because the crew confronted real people on the street, the film producers opted for a less known actor to play Hitler. Oliver Masucci, son of an Italian father and a German mother, is a well established theatre actor, but had only been featured in a handful of films. After many hours in make-up, he came pretty close to what the real Hitler would have looked and sounded like. In my opinion, that was kind of funny and scary at the same time!
After about 15 minutes, it becomes clear that this film is a lot more than just a comedy: It is actually pretty scary to see Nationalist, right wing tendencies creeping up in society again. Not only in Germany, but also in Europe and beyond (Donald Trump in the US… do I need to say more?) The minds of a lot of people still seem to work the same way they did back in 1933, when the real Hitler promised an economically depressed Germany jobs, cars and just generally a happy life!
We all know what happened next… I really hope that the young generations of today know better than to just blame someone else in order to suddenly resolve all their problems!
The final verdict: At times, the scenes stretch out for too long. I also wasn't always sure which scenes were real and which ones were scripted. The end is different to the book and according to my taste too much over the top!
In genernal though, this "social experiment" was a good idea with an important, moral message!
*** 3 out of 5 stars