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Look Who's Back - a humorous yet sobering look at today's Germany

I just saw this film last night on Netflix and I can't get stop pondering it. Its a great German film from 2015 called Look Who's Back (German: Er ist wieder da). A documentary/satire, it follows Adolf Hitler as he's transported to 21st century Berlin. Hitler then travels the breadth of modern-day Germany, now with a backing of a German media group, from Bavaria to the south up to the North Sea Coast.

What makes it so immersive is not only the way they captured Hitler's charisma and mannerisms, but also how they incorporated unscripted real life scenes of the Hitler actor interacting with everyday Germans. In retrospect, as it was filmed in 2014, I think it helps enlighten some of the sentiments bubbling underneath in relation to the resurgence of the Far-Right in Europe and the Americas, only 1-2 short years later.

I won't spoil the film, but let's just say that many of the interactions with Hitler and the average German on the street appears at odds with the impressions we get of a highly-progressive Germany. Many were ready to reconcile with Hitler, confiding in him everything from their loss of belief in democracy, to the need to build labor camps for foreigners, and even admitting that they would vote for him!

Here's the Netflix link (German with subtitles): https://www.netflix.com/title/80094357

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5484 posts

Hope than both Germans and non-Germans learn from history. During a bike tour of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with a German friend we biked pass the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp and detoured to tour the camp and historic exhibit. Our German friend commented that it was important to preserve these historic sites so that we (the Germans and the rest of us) don't forget.

Learn from travel. Let's not let the 1930s repeat itself.

Posted by
1859 posts

I agree, let us all hope for that, though it is frighting how many are willfully ignorant of the past.

Posted by
1906 posts

I saw this a couple of years ago; it was recommended by a German. The closing credits are pretty interesting...

Posted by
2933 posts

Dave , I'll certainly watch this , but please don't keep me in suspense . What's in those credits ( I always pay close attention to a films credits ) ? Carlos , Thanks for this !

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5484 posts

How did Hitler rise to power? TED short version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFICRFKtAc4

Decades after the fall of the Third Reich, it feels impossible to
understand how Adolf Hitler, the tyrant who orchestrated one of the
largest genocides in human history, could ever have risen to power in
a democratic country. So how did it happen, and could it happen again?
Alex Gendler and Anthony Hazard dive into the history and
circumstances that allowed Hitler to become Führer of Germany.

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1859 posts

Steven, no worries, it's a very eye opining experience.

The ending credits feature the Hitler actor being driven around the streets of modern-day Berlin (real life unscripted scene), in an open top Mercedes no-less, waving and saluting to his fellow Germans he passes on the street, with many Germans waving and saluting back, some with big grins on their faces. Then it incorporates news footage from various far-right movements in Europe and the USA. Truly one of the most chilling endings to any film I've watched.

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2933 posts

I'll watch this tonight , Thanks Carlos ! Two good sources after the TED - for those wanting a deep understanding ; , " The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich " William Shirer ( 1960 ) and for even more depth ; " Hitler 1889 - 1936 , Hubris " and " Hitler 1936 - 1945 , Nemesis " Ian Kershaw ( 1998 . 2000 )

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326 posts

A recent book about Hitlers rise to power is The Last Winter of the Weimar Republic by Barth and Friedrichs. I just read the free sample on kindle, waiting for the price to come down to buy the full book, but it covers a dramatic time from November 32 to Hitler's appointment as Chancellor on Jan 30,1933. From my studies of that time it was certainly not inevitable that Hitler would take over. Indeed, there were multiple signs that the NSDAP was in decline by the end of 1932.

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1859 posts

I think this scene from the film sums up, relatively well, the mass appeal of Hitler and his message - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBqwtHnc9ho&t=1s

Some dialogue later in the film:

-(To Hitler): You are a monster!
-(Hitler): Am I? Then you also have to condemn those who elected this monster. Were they all monsters? No, they were ordinary people...
Have you never asked yourself, why do people follow me?
Because at their core, they are just like me.

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5484 posts

Germany became a republic after WW1. Hitler turned a democracy into a dictatorship after the global economic crisis of the 1930s (Great Depression) by appealing to German voters wanting to return Germany to is pre-WW1 greatness. Make travel a teachable moment.

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1168 posts

I saw this film a few years ago and agree that it is a sobering film. It’s especially disturbing to see some of the real life sections. It is also hopeful that some people clearly weren’t about to go along with Hitler and actively push back against him.

In short, it’s a lot like what happened in WWII. Many people supported Hitler. There were also Germans that did what was right at the cost of their lives.

Posted by
1906 posts

I remember a guy on a bike during the closing credits who gave Hitler a not-so-friendly wave!

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1906 posts

steven,

Well before the release of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer's book Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-41 was published (in June 1941, to be exact). It chronicles his time in Berlin as a CBS radio correspondent, giving a day-by-day report of the rise and war preparations of the Nazi regime. I liked it a lot; it offers the unique perspective of a journalist's impressions of events as they happened (for example, his entries on one of the large Nazi rallies in Nuremburg in particular stick out in my mind).

Also... I am on vacation at home this week and last (supposed to be in Austria and Bavaria). I cleaned off the book shelves over the weekend and found my Stefan Zweig biography. I'm still on Poland reading right now -- working on an Adam Mickiewicz biography at the moment, but will eventually get around to the Zweig book.

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56 posts

Did not know they had made the book into a movie, I will be looking for it. Last time we went to Germany, about 5 or 6 years ago, my husband picked up an English language translation of the book in a Munich bookstore and read it while on the trip. For the whole time I was frantically trying to keep the book hidden away -- the cover had a large cartoon of Hitler's face. Of course every time I came back from the restroom at every cafe and museum I would find my dear husband obliviously reading the book with the cover front and center. No one seemed to take offense, so obviously I was overreacting. He enjoyed the book.

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3182 posts

hcota - any chance the book could’ve been explained to passers-by as being a Charlie Chaplin biography, complete with the comedian’s face on the cover?

More seriously, the film credits sound extremely interesting . . . but are they really “the end?”

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1859 posts

Well... I guess it's not truly the end because I read today they made a 2018 remake, this time an Italian version of the same concept called I'm Back (Italian: Sono tornato). You can probably guess what it's about, but the film follows Benito Mussolini as he is transported to 21st century Rome. Mussolini then interacts with ordinary Italians in unscripted scenes in Rome, Naples, Milan, Florence and Umbria, with much of the same results as the German counterpart.

Unfortunately I'm not sure where I can find the film. I could only find the trailer for the Mussolini version on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmR_RhbrEZE

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70 posts

I saw it at a film festival and felt it was a commentary on celebrity culture as much as on Hitler.

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3182 posts

What’s next - a Franco double in Spain? The possibilities are endless, although a more recent notorious character might be more recognizable than one from farther back in history. Maybe Ghengis Khan in Mongolia, Nero in Rome, etc. Oh, wait . . . there have already been costumed guys at the Colosseum.

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2933 posts

Dave , I just ordered a copy of " Berlin Diary " , looking forward to it !

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1859 posts

@Cyn - yes I had thought about a Franco version of this film set in Spain. The thing is Franco did not have the same charismatic sway over the masses that Hitler or Mussolini had. Franco was actually quite a short unassuming man with a high pitched squeaky voice and not very good at public speaking. He was more of a ruthless political operator, who played the various right-wing parties off of each other in order to maintain power.

Though, I will unfortunately admit he still has quite the popularity in Spain, I've heard many a time the phrase "things were better under Franco", especially with the older crowd who had lived through the Civil War.

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5484 posts

RE: [Franco is} still has quite the popularity in Spain....

Would Franco be a law and order candidate? My boss in the early 1970s visited Spain several time for business. He commented that Spain was a very safe place free of petty crime. He observed that the police patrolled the city with submachine guns and had a reputation for shooting before asking questions. Did citizens sacrifice "freedom" for law and order and the "Spanish Economic Miracle" of the 1960s and early 1970s?