Adolf Hitler appears to be as popular as ever in Germany, a new leftist film based on the best-selling book Er ist wieder da (“He is Back”) has inadvertently revealed.
The film, meant to mock the German leader, is based on a comedy book of the same name by Timur Vermes. In the book, published a few years ago, Hitler wakes up in a vacant lot in Berlin in the year 2011, with no memory of anything that happened after 1945.
Homeless and destitute, he interprets everything he sees in Germany from a Nazi perspective (for instance, he assumes that Turks in Germany are an indicator of Karl Dönitz having persuaded Turkey to join the Axis), and although everyone recognizes him, nobody believes that he is Hitler; instead, they think he is either a comedian, or an actor.
As a result, videos of his speeches become highly popular on YouTube, and he achieves celebrity status as a performer. In the end, he uses his popularity to go back to politics.
The film version, however, went a step further and interlaced the book’s storyline with documentary-style scenes, last seen in the “Borat” films made by Sacha Baron Cohen, where unwitting members of the public interact with the film without first realizing that it was all a set up.
According to an AFP report on the film’s opening week in Germany, lead actor Oliver Masucci, complete with Hitler moustache and uniform, is seen getting rousing receptions from ordinary people, many of whom pose for “selfies” with him.
Tourists and football fans cheer the fake Hitler at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, in a Bavarian village and elsewhere, and elderly people pour their hearts out to him.
“Yes, bring back labor camps,” says one citizen to the actor.
“There is a smoldering anger among the people, like in the 1930s,” says the Hitler character, with visible satisfaction.
Masucci, best known as a stage actor, told Bild daily about his mixed feelings while shooting the unscripted scenes with people on the street.
“During shooting, I realized: I didn’t really have to perform—people felt a need to talk, they wanted to pour their hearts out to a fatherly Hitler who was listening to them,” he said.
“I found it disturbing how quickly I could win people over. I mean, they were talking to Hitler.”
“A fake Hitler, a small moustache clearly helped people lose their inhibitions and… allowed insights into Germany’s dark side,” the far leftist daily Berliner Morgenpost wrote in its review.
“After all, it said,” Hitler, “in a figurative sense, “never really left.”