Springtime for Hitler in Germany
“Even Poland still exists! This war has been useless!” erupts Adolf Hitler not too long after the movie has started. This is one of the many instances one has to fight the urge to spit one’s drink all over the place. A fish out of water if there was ever one, Look Who’s Back puts an outrageous twist on the stuff of legend (Elvis not dead, neither Marylin, or MJ) and precipitates a resurrected Hitler in contemporary Germany. The Fürher still thinks he’s on command; harsh reality quickly enlightens him: he is a laughing stock, with a future in stand up comic.
This movie is way better that it should be, a miracle walk on a very, very tight rope. The first reason is of course the delightful performance of Oliver Masucci, unrecognisable behind his moustache. Compared to him, the rest of the cast is a bit run-of-the-mill, but most of the scenes involving public appearances have been improvised, and what the common German people have to say about a Hitler comeback is as hilarious as it is frightening.
What could have been a series of vignettes à la Sacha Baron Cohen takes the trouble of developing a plot and various characters, to whom Hitler reacts with a mix of genuine passion for “the German people” and a sly denial of anything racist or xenophobic. He’s the perfect politician, with an answer to any question and at least three escape routes planned for any quagmire.
Carefully editing a mix of newsreel (the Angela Merkel cameo, gratified with “the charisma of a cold noodle”, is priceless), movie references (the Leni Riefenstahl opening title, the now-iconic Bruno Ganz’ bunker scene, except it’s oh so cleverly attributed to the villain of the piece) and guerrilla-style impromptu meetings, Look Who’s Back manages to balance serious issues (far too many to list) and fleeting fads shedding a cruel light on our social networking culture. From an online “Adolf Hitler make-up tutorial” to a “I hate everyone but Hitler” tweet and the demonstration that Facebook is useless at recruiting Hitler Jungen, naturally springs the conclusion – it shames one to write it – that “no one ever stay mad at Hitler for very long”.
Chaplin’s The Great Dictator was a brave movie because it was fighting on the front of an ugly war. Look Who’s Back adapts this sense of emergency and combativeness to our desperately stupid modern times. The worst thing Hitler can do is kill a puppy. Gasing whole families was “all a joke”, as asserted by the latest generation of one of said families.
What to think of the world we live in, the duty of memory, the atrocities that constellated the 20th century, when one pees itself watching the most reviled person in history punctuating his nazi salute by the phrase “See you soon, Nigga”? If this blog has a meaning at all, it has found his first authentic modern monster. Bad news is it’s a real one; good news is it’s desperately funny.