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I was traveling in Berlin a year ago when I first saw someone reading
the eponymous book on which this movie is based. It stuck in a corner
of my mind, so as my travels brought me back to Berlin and posters were
advertising "Er ist wieder da", I had to give it a go.
The challenge, as with previous comedic movies themed around Hitler or
the Nazi regime, is treading the line of reasonable taste and still
being challenging enough to gain some relevance. One of the best known
spoofs of the times, The Producers, uses it as a pivot to tell an
engaging story about several memorable characters, so that works well.
But here, there's little to pivot from, as Hitler, in realistic attire
and demeanor, narrates his experience of present day Germany. So the
twist, in part, is to make it a mockumentary in the spirit of Borat,
see how people react to Hitler walking the streets and delivering his
calculated critiques of the political system, the media - life in
general. When it's not doing this, the film provides a decent dose of
slapstick and irony to its more obviously scripted parts.
Distinguishing one from the other is not really the key to enjoyment;
the key lies in accepting this faithful representation of Hitler as a
grotesquely humorous caricature of the symbolic power he holds over
modern history in its most extreme moments. It was a bit harder than I
thought it would be at the beginning, but one settles in well, after a
Narratively, not much really happens, other than the fact that the
protagonist pops up in Berlin and gets acquainted to what the world is
like nowadays. To help him in this, a few support characters act as
guides; none believe him to be "the real thing", but rather a comedian
or a satirist. So, in a sense, it's not really a very ambitious film,
because the degree to which it engages with the moral dimension of the
situation is limited. But it is ambitious in that it tries to keep a
straight face even through the more ghastly, touch-and-go moments one
would relate to a Hitler movie. It is at its best when it does this,
but then the occasional piece of slapstick hits you in the face are
you're back into the reality of a mildly amusing film that people have
only heard of because it is polemic.
An important part in the whole thing coming together reasonably well is
thanks to Oliver Masucci, who offers a strong performance to keep the
"pots" in balance. Perhaps one could critique this in particular: the
implication is that any piece of fiction told in the first person will
make the viewer empathize with the character, hence humanizing the
historical figure. But the historical figure itself is merely a
representation of the man and "Er ist wieder da" tries to contextualize
this - make away with what you know and imagine this were pre-1933. As
mentioned, it doesn't go very deep with it and it would be quite
problematic to do so. It's just a thought experiment which concludes in
a slightly open and ambiguous fashion.
To address the real question though: did I laugh? Yes, I did. Did I
enjoy it? Yes, I did. The film managed to create an amusing environment
which plays off the character of Hitler, without making it the other
way around (all the time). As for the big picture, I might not agree
that the world is, collectively, where it was seventy years ago, in
spite of the troubles we are currently facing, especially in Europe. Or
that we would make the same mistakes all over again. But that's another
story of me visiting Berlin.
Tags for Look Who's Back Full Movie
, Marc-Marvin Israel
, Oliver Masucci
, Thomas M. Köppl
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