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My Fuhrer (Germany)


Satire is a universal genre. Every country that produces films; also produces satires. One of the most interesting aspects of My Fuhrer is being able to view a German satire of World War II. My Fuhrer chronicles the relationship between Adolf Hitler and Adolf Grunbaum, a Jewish actor/professor summoned from a camp to aid Hitler in his preparations for a speech.

Grade:

In Fuhrer, Hitler is not the strong, confident, dominant leader he had been during his prime. The war is coming to an end and he is quickly losing self-esteem while gaining paranoia and self-loathing. Goebbels has more or less taken control of the Reich while making sure Hitler remains calm enough to play figurehead. Grunbaum is asked to revitalize Hitler enough to give one more rousing speech to the German public in Berlin.

The entire film is based upon “staged reality”. The puppet-master Goebbels sets to work creating film sets that will represent a Berlin unaffected by the barrage of bombings. He uses Grunbaum to control Hitler’s actions and hopefully ignite the hatred for which he was so famous. Meanwhile, Grunbaum is staging his own sort of reality. He is conflicted aiding the man who has terrorized his people for over six years now; yet he is an artist at heart and wants to prove that he can turn Hitler’s insecurities into strengths. He has to balance his life at home, with a wife begging for Hitler’s assassination, with a life amongst the Nazi oppressors he despises.

As an American, viewing My Fuhrer is essentially an Easter egg hunt for the comedy. There are moments that are probably quite funny to a native German, or even a German speaker, that are lost as a result of focus being given to reading the subtitles. The moments pass, but can be realized later, such as the ridiculous amount of “Heil Hitler”, Himmler’s cast, the bureaucratic idiocy of form Q512 and the insistence on using full titles for officers. These moments mock the Nazi regime and its strict adherence to the most irrelevant of codes. The odd relationships of Goebbels and the typist, as well as Speer and Hitler, are entertaining side plots that don’t get much attention, but provide some amusing scenes.  None of these moments are necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, but they are quirky and eccentric to a point that you are reminded of the informal nature of the film, which is crucial to a movie covering such a tense topic.

For those of you who think of German as a difficult language to hear due to its aggressive nature, I wish there was more evidence to the contrary in My Fuhrer. Grunbaum’s voice is soft and gentle, but there is no way someone can portray Hitler without being overtly aggressive. There is a constant conflict between their styles of speech. For example, the pseudo-therapy sessions between Grunbaum and Hitler are a fascinating insight into one man facing his demons and another facing his people’s demon.

Unfortunately, the subtitles move quickly making it slightly difficult to keep pace in the beginning, but once you power through and catch up, My Fuhrer is completely worth it. Make sure to stay on through the credits to get a minute glimpse into the various ways Hitler (and Grunbaum) is viewed by different generations of Germans. My Fuhrer excellently shows a tense situation in a satirical, witty and enjoyable manner.

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