Apr 4, 2013

Hitler: A Film from Germany

Without a doubt, aside from being the most hated person in contemporary history, Adolf Hitler – the Austrian-born Führer of the infamous Third Reich who settled for a more serious career in revolutionary nationalist politics after failing as an artist – is also one of the most cinematically depicted figures of film history, which is quite ironic considering he was a cinephile of sorts who had his own little theatre and personal film projectionist where he would apparently watch two or three films a day, with half-Jewish Austrian auteur Fritz Lang’s two-part silent Wagnerian epic Die Nibelungen (1924) being one of his favorite and most-watched films. Indeed, while Hitler is still portrayed in movies of all sorts, including mainstream Jewish Hollywood scat-comedies, such as Little Nicky (2000) starring neo-vaudevillian philistine Adam Sandler in which Hitler is dressed in a female maid's outfit and is repeatedly anally penetrated with a pineapple by Satan himself while in hell, as well as modern mainstream German epics like Downfall (2004) aka Der Untergang where the dead dictator's last days on earth are dramatized in a fairly objective manner, few films have taken the time to examine the effect he had on the nation, people, and culture he claimed to love so dearly yet ultimately destroyed in an apocalyptic fashion, but if there is a film that does to attempt this arduous and ambitious task and then some, it is most certainly Prussian auteur Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s 442-minute avant-garde 'biopic' Hitler: A Film from Germany aka Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland aka Our Hitler – a four part Franco-British-German co-production that was produced by ‘Germany’s most successful producer’ Bernd Eichinger (The Neverending Story, The Baader Meinhof Complex) and co-produced by the BBC. A strictly conservative work of the Teutonic romanticist persuasion, a circus announcer in pancake make-up states early on in Hitler: A Film from Germany that, “this is no left wing opportunist death-camp sex film. This is a film for us. It’s about war and genocide. Auschwitz as the battlefield of race war. Who does the world hold guilty? And what would Hitler be without us?” Of course, the more important question asked by Hitler: A Film from Germany is what is Germany without its historical myths, innate irrationalism, dark romanticism?! As director Syberberg quite lucidly yet epically and arcanely reveals with his Hitler: A Film from Germany, Germany is nothing without its myths and traditional culture and it was Adolf Hitler, the supposed 'savior' and Wagnerian Hero that Germans had always dreamed of since the beginning of their history – who literally rises from Richard Wagner’s tome in the film – who incorporated all the myths and traditions of Teutonic kultur in his propaganda and war campaign, thus ultimately irrevocably tainting them for subsequent unborn generations to come after the Fatherland’s defeat after the Second World War. Indisputably one of the most ambitious cinematic works ever made and one of the few examples of cinema as “Gesamtkunstwerk,” Hitler: A Film from Germany is a work where Syberberg did the seemingly aesthetically and politically inexplicable; or as he wrote himself, “I sought an aesthetic scandal: combining Brecht’s doctrine of epic theater with Richard Wagner’s musical aesthetics, cinematically conjoining the epic system as anti-Aristotelian cinema with the laws of a new myth.” 

 Where German prophet of Occidental decline Oswald Spengler left off with his final work Hour of Decision (1933) – a best seller that was eventually banned by the Third Reich, in part, due to its prediction of Germany’s destruction as a result of naïve optimism for National Socialism – Syberberg continues in Hitler: A Film from Germany – a work innately in tune with the Teutonic traditions that the allies sought to destroy and the Germans themselves did not think twice about throwing away because, after all, they were spared total extermination and you know what they say: “if you can't beat them, join them.” And, indeed, Germany, at least the western side, decided to adopt the cosmopolitanism, globalism, Hollywoodism, McWorldism, rationalism and all the other ‘isms’ that make the world mundanely ‘one’ as envisioned and foretold by great men of Jewish history ranging from Leon Trotsky to Henry Kissinger, but Herr Syberberg, a man who once stated about himself that he was, “conservative in a Prussian sense, of the classic school, without chewing gum and pinball, not for nothing raised in the age of Stalin” and a man of minor noble blood who had the good luck of growing up in Eastern Germany, thus missing the narcotizing effects of American mass-culture and capitalism, was able to forego Uncle Sam’s influence, which is quite apparent in Hitler: A Film from Germany – a work of postmodern pastiche Prussianism and post-Auschwitz high-camp Hitlerism that quite indisputably aesthetically exterminates any and every celluloid portrayal of Hitler that came before and after it. In many ways, Syberberg’s film is a cinematic manifesto on an epic scale that pleads with the viewer to move on in regards to the infamous legacy of Uncle Adolf – the main point arguably being that he exploited the Germanic myths from Goethe to Karl May and every kraut genius in between – because as the director wrote himself, “We know about the glory and misery of irrationalism; but without it, Germany is nothing but dangerous, sick, without identity, explosive—a wretched shadow of its possibilities. Hitler is to be fought, not with the statistic of Auschwitz or with sociological analyses of the Nazi economy, but with Richard Wagner and Mozart.” In Hitler: A Film from Germany, Syberberg reactivates the myths with a vivacious vengeance that blitzkriegs the “fourth wall” to let the audiences know he is speaking directly to them so they cannot weasel their way out confronting Hitler and the irreplaceable culture that he has helped to throwaway by making a central ingredient of his regime. Featuring Syberberg's young daughter, Amelie Syberberg, in the opening and concluding scenes (with her and a puppet representing "Germany" and "democracy"), the director ties his own child to the future of Germany, which is quite telling considering Fassbinder, a homosexual who never had children and the central figure of German New Cinema, only foresaw and accepted pessimism and death for the future of his nation, while the director of Hitler: A Film from Germany was arguably the only strong link between Germany's rich cultural past and its dubious future.

 A fundamentally nonlinear work featuring a number of long monologues, Hitler: A Film from Germany is essentially divided into four main segments including: Part I: Der Gral ("The Grail"), Part II: Ein deutscher Traum ("A German Dream"), Part III: Das Ende eines Wintermärchens ("The End of a Winter's Tale"), and Wir Kinder der Hölle ("We Children of Hell"). Part I is arguably, with the possible exception of the final segment, the most important part of Hitler: A Film from Germany and largely deals with Hitler’s cult of personality as disseminated through National Socialist propaganda. Utilizing gigantic cut-outs of German expressionist classics like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Algol: Tragedy of Power (1920), and Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922), Syberberg recounts Frankfurt school leftist Jew Siegfried Kracauer’s argument in his popular work in neo-Marxist pop-psychology From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (1947) that the early works of Teutonic silent horror foretold the ‘cultural insanity’ and the rise of a mad men like Hitler. We also see Fassbinder superstar Harry Baer philosophizing on the death of the Occident while holding a King Ludwig II of Bavaria doll, a parody of Chaplin as Hitler from The Great Dictator (1940), Uncle Adolf performing cunninlingus on a blowup doll, Hitler as Napoleon, a lycanthrope with a nazi armband with human bodies in its mouth, and a variety of National Socialist propaganda images, including caricatures of Jews from Julius Streicher’s tabloid magazine Der Stürmer and images of Eva Braun going for scenic nature walks. Sadomasochistic fetishism is an intrinsic element of many images, thus illustrating both the S&M obsessions of both Hitler and the German people themselves, thereupon linking love and death – a theme taking to its fullest extreme in the no-budget arthouse splatter flick of aberrant Aryan auteur Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik, Der Todesking). One of the most iconic elements of Hitler: A Film from Germany, especially during the first segment, is the utilization of grotesque Nazi puppets that makes for the gross exaggerations of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Eva Braun, and Göring’s essences.  Unlike the hysterical Hebrew in Hollywood and the ethno-masochistic leftist krauts in the German film industry, Syberberg makes no attempt to disguise the sheer and utter subjectivity of his work, especially when dealing with Hitler and his gang.

As film scholar Anton Kaes wrote in his academic study From Hitler to Heimat: The Return of History as Film (1992), “Syberberg acknowledges his debt to Wagner not only through numerous musical quotations, in particular from Rienzi, Hitler’s favorite opera, and from Götterdämmerung but also through the overall structure of his film: like the Ring cycle, Hitler consists of four parts. Given also Syberberg’s fascination with German mythology, it is not farfetched to regard his film as a continuation of Wagner’s project in the age of technical reproducibility.” Keeping Kaes' words in mind, it is not a stretch to say that Syberberg could also identify with Adolf Hitler – the Wagnerite and the artist – as the director even went so far as once admitting he ‘could understand’ being an SS man at Auschwitz who 'made himself hard' to fulfill a history mission, thereupon making Hitler: A Film from Germany what is quite arguably the closest attempt a filmmaker had made at understanding from ever angle, thus antagonistically going against the grain of the over-quoted Friedrich Nietzsche quote, "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."  Indeed, Syberberg's film in many ways resembles a Wagnerian scale Germanic holocaust of the audio-visual sort. One could also say one needs a certain ‘hardness’ to watch a film like Hitler: A Film from Germany – a virtual uncensored Faustian bachelors degree in not only everything related to Hitlerism and the mad mensch himself, but also German cultural history in general. With references to obscure events of National Socialist history, including Himmler’s sending of his personal astrologists to concentration camps, Hitler’s favorite films, the torture of Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach’s toddler son by American GIs, how Hitler earned his beloved Iron Cross in the First World War after he was recommended for it by a German-Jewish superior officer named Hugo Gutmann, and other seemingly odd and contradictory anecdotes from history. In its eclectic portrayals of Hitler, from the perspective of characters both real and fictional, Hitler: A Film from Germany is the rare sort of film that would inspire both hatred and interest from both Zionist terrorist and Esoteric Hitlerites as a work that says just about what everyone would could say about the fallen Führer – a man who went from being a Viennese hobo to being voted “Man of the Year” in 1938 by Time Magazine and would go on to be the most hated and reviled person in the world. 

 In its utilization of actors of Syberberg’s ideological adversary Rainer Werner Fassbinder, including Harry Baer (Fassbinder’s right-hand man who oftentimes worked as his assistant director), Peter Moland, and the rather rotund Peter Kern, as well as Austrian Jew André Heller, Hitler: A Film from Germany, quite ironically, takes a rather iconoclastic approach to promoting the restoration of German culture, Teutonic irrationalism, and Faustian myths. In fact, Syberberg goes as far as using quasi-pornographic S&M of elderly naked women grasping a ‘scale of justice’ (one side of the scale holding large dildos and the other, doll heads) in a ‘last judgement court’ against Hitler to get his point across because, while he may be a Prussian, he is certainly no prude because in his view it is the mainstream leftists who are callous, cowardly, and impenetrably close-minded. As he once wrote, “Germany was spiritually disinherited and dispossessed; anything that could not be justified by sociology and social policies was hushed up. But how can they comprehend Hölderlin if they have relocated him as a revolutionary between Lessing and Marx, how could Novalis survive as a model for the American road movie; and without irrationality, no Die Räuber [The Brigands] by Schiller and no fairy tales and no folk songs and no Runge. Give everything to Hitler and Goebbels? And is Caspar David Friedrich right-wing and fascist? Is irrationalism right-wing or left-wing? Have they forgotten that their venerated Ernst Bloch was the man who, in the last line of his The Spirit of Utopia, spoke of homeland (Heimat), the word banished from Germany? And that it was he who, in those days, when faced with the Nazis, warned about undernourishing the mass imagination? What would Judiasm be without its Cabbala? Merely Einstein? And what would Einstein be without music, without German Romanticism and Classicism? We live in a country without a homeland.

 In the final segment of Hitler: A Film from Germany, Syberberg satirizes the post-WWII cult of Hitler where both ex-Nazis and Jews in Hollywood ironically cashed in on the Third Reich. Indeed, for all of Steven Spielberg’s hatred of Hitler and promotion of the Holocaust, he certainly made a killing off those Nazi killings and were not for Hitler, he might not have as many vacation houses or even his beloved holy land, the Jewish state of Israel. Hitler: A Film from Germany is, most importantly, a film about the Germans for once and not the Jews, who are certainly not doing too bad nowadays, but the Aryans are a decidedly dying race, who have become a group of freedom-fetishizing pacifists and hedonists with the sort of slave-morality they used to accuse their enemies of having. Towards the conclusion of Hitler: A Film from Germany, one hears Thomas Mann's melodramatic statement from New Year’s 1938, “God help our darkened and misused land and teach it to make its peace with itself and its world.” The narrator then retorts to Mann’s quote with, “What would he say today? Or our children tomorrow? Seeing what we have done with our freedom and ourselves: Soulless dwarf people in the dead plastic womb of an empty doll face are the mirrors of our cities and our language; and they created gods in this image. The end game of our existence today, a new Family of Man, in the inhuman ready-made face of our freedom, which we have gambled away. Freedom without a face….Hitler, here is your victory!” Indeed, World War II was Judea’s victory with the Aryan apocalypse and if the Germanic goy can learn anything from the Jew, it is that guilt is unnecessary and debilitating baggage of the decidedly defeated and dead kind. After all, when was the last time you heard a Hebrew apologize for the doings of a mass murderer of their own ilk, such as failed bourgeois Trotsky or a Mongol apologize for the sins of Genghis Khan?! While it takes the confirmation that Mr. anti-Semite Adolf Hitler really had Jewish ancestry and/or was a homo, or that modern day Zionist Jews are “National Socialist” engaged in ethnic cleaning for modern day Germans to shed their guilt?  As a certain totenkopf-obsessed neo-folk group used as the title of their first full-length album: The Guilty Have No Pride!

 In his posthumously published work Diary of a Man in Despair (1947) – a rather unconventional journal of the writer’s hatred of the Third Reich – Fritz Reck-Malleczewen, a personal friend of Oswald Spengler and a good Prussian like Syberberg who was executed at Dachau concentration camp via a bullet to the neck on February 16, 1945, wrote the following words, “Nationalism, no matter how loudly defended today, is almost finished, and the coup de grace will come in this most mob-like of all wars. Tomorrow it will be behind us, an ugly, sweaty dream. The idea of a united Europe was not always upheld by me, but I know now that we can no longer afford the luxury of considering it a mere idea. Europe must either make any further wars impossible, or this cradle of great ideas will see its cathedrals pulverized, and its landscape turned into a plain.” Indeed, Europe is united today in technocratic and economic slavery as a passive cuckold of America, its cultural vitality and spirit were all but destroyed in the Second World War, and cultural ingredients and cultural producers are virtually nonexistent there today, thus making Syberberg’s plea for a return to seem rather futile, especially in a strictly German context. In the final paragraph he wrote for the introduction of his screenplay for Hitler: A Film from Germany, Syberberg stated, “The final silence of childlike melancholy in a starry tear with a distant freedom fanfare beyond the mountains. That is the end of this Hitler, who is now a film. But how far we have gone in these seven hours of cinema, what things we have gone through and what things we have had to see and hear…” Indeed, if any film could have inspired the same passion that Wagner’s opera did for Hitler in dreaming of the Third Reich, it is most certainly Hitler: A Film from Germany, but it seems that few people had the eyes, ears, and soul to properly listen.  Like most modern day European nations, Germany is a sparkling Teutonic toilet for nations of the third world, which actively promotes supplanting its native population with dusky-skinned untermensch, and whose indigenous German women are far too concerned with their careers rather than child-bearing, just as German men are too interested in Asian whores to spawn any children.  From Spengler to Syberberg, Hitler: A Film from Germany is more of an elaborately epic elegy of an Gesamtkunstwerk for Germania than a call for rebirth in Germany, especially when watched over 35 years after its release. Even Syberberg seems to have changed, although where his cuckold kinsmen have only become all the more ethno-masochistic and self-denigrating, the filmmaker seems closer to Hitler than ever, at least judging by a statement in 1990, “Whoever joined the Jews and the leftists was successful, and it did not necessarily have anything to do with love, or understanding, or even inclination. How could Jews tolerate that, being that these others only wanted power.”

 As for old Uncle Adolf, Syberberg makes the final judgment via Hitler: A Film from Germany: “You are the executor of Western civilization, democratically self-elected, voluntarily, with the victory of money, of materialism over us. The plague of our century. The wretched artist as a hang-man degenerating into a politician, voluntarily, cheered as no man ever before. How can I make this clear to you and to me, and me and all the children and grandchildren, who didn’t know all this, this previous life, which they have all forgotten by now, corrupted by the new legacy of your time…The words “magic” and “myth” and “serving” and “ruling,” “Führer,” “authority,” are ruined, are gone, exiled to eternal time. And we are snuffed out. Nothing more will grow here. An entire nation stopped existing, in the diaspora of the mind and the elite. The New Ones were designed, developed, the New Man is here. The plague of materialism has won out in East and West! Congratulations!”  Of course, with MTV aesthetic garbage like Run Lola Run (1998) directed by Tom Tykwer – a mutilcultural-friendly work of crack-laced cinematic ADHD featuring swarthy krauts that would be at home in Iran and the sort of anti-kultur/anti-race audio-visual grotesquery that would wet the panties of a raver whore in heat – I think it is safe to say that even fewer Germans will understand Syberberg's message in Hitler: A Film from Germany today.  Undoubtedly, if Europe and its colonies (as well as the rest of the world for that matter) were wiped out in a nuclear holocaust tomorrow, it would most certainly not be that big of a loss, at least culturally speaking.  As Syberberg teaches us in Hitler: A Film from Germany, a people and nation is nothing without its culture, its myths, its irrational, its essence...

 Indeed, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, as far as today is concerned, is the last true ‘German filmmaker,’ a man who, unlike his cinematic compatriots of the German New Cinema, basked in the operas of Wagner, the writings of Nietzsche and Schiller, the paintings of Franz von Stuck and Caspar David Friedrich, the poetry of Heinrich von Kleist and Stefan George, and the ancient Norse mythology of the ancient Germanic people. Indeed, while German New Cinema master auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder found his self-destructive Weltanschauung in the writings of modernist German Jew Alfred Döblin, barely bothering to scratch the surface of his forsaken Fatherland's history, Syberberg dug deep and found the hole in the collective soul of Germania and tried to fill it by creating such celluloid masterworks as Hitler: A Film from Germany – a work that even Susan Sontag – a woman who once wrote, “The white race is the cancer of human history,” – had to admit, “is on another scale from anything one has seen on film. It is work that demands a special kind of attention and partisanship; and invites being reflected upon, reseen. The more one recognizes of its stylistic references and lore, the more the film vibrates. (Great art in the mode of pastiche invariably rewards study, as Joyce affirmed by daring to observe that the ideal reader of his work would be someone who could devote his life to it.) Syberberg’s film belongs in the category of noble masterpieces which ask for fealty and can compel it. After seeing Hitler, a Film from Germany, there is Syberberg’s film—and then there are the other films one admires. (Not too many these days, alas.) As was said ruefully of Wagner, he spoils our tolerance for the others.”  Indeed, such a cinematically and culturally epic work like Hitler: A Film from Germany almost ruins the works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Schroeter for me and if it was not for the former's 15 1/2 hour film Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), I would have no problem stating that the whole of German New Cinema is totally irrelevant when compared to Syberberg's achievement in pomo Hitler-hating of the rather rare right-wing Prussian Wagnerite sort.  With no great philosopher and poets in the "the land of poets and thinkers," Syberberg and his celluloid magna opera Hitler: A Film from Germany make for a worthy substitute as a work that combines all the cultural ingredients of Teutonic history that preceded Hitler and prove that the damn krauts were racially and culturally superior, but made the blasphemous mistaking of bragging about it via an Austrian untermensch of the far from blond beast (but certainly Faustian) sort.  Indeed, Syberberg's Hitler: A Film from Germany is nothing, if not one of the most traditionally Germanic films ever made, thus making it in total and violent opposition to what everything Hollywood stands for, and, in turn, making a truly noble piece of high art.

-Ty E

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