Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Look Who’s Back (Er ist wieder da)

(Germany, 2015)

Am I just seeing special lessons to be learned in a lot of films lately because of the disaster of the recent election? It’s possible, but this one is genuinely disturbing. It is based on a “satirical” novel that was very popular in Germany. The premise: Adolf Hitler is somehow transported through time, alive, to present-day Germany.

If you’ve got your breath back now, let me say that at the beginning it was pretty funny, seeing this megalomaniac reacting to the miracles of modern technology. He loves it all, especially television and the Internet. Even though he is the spitting image (not yet the Seig Heiling! image) of the man, and even has his Führer uniform at the beginning, everyone assumes he is a crazy man with a good line of patter. When he is put on a TV show as sort of comic relief, he delivers a speech about German greatness and against the tide of immigrants flooding into the Fatherland, it strikes a chord.

Then he and Sawatski, the man who discovered him (right at the site where Hitler’s bunker used to be, but he doesn’t know that yet) go on a road trip all over the country, talking to people. This is where it begins to get really disturbing. These people didn’t look like actors, and I later discovered that they were not. And they loved him. Of course they knew he was a Hitler impersonator (Oliver Masucci, doing a bang-up job), but they enthusiastically agreed with the anti-foreigner shit he was spouting, and even felt the government should go further.

Shouldn’t Germans be offended by seeing someone parading around like that? (To be fair, one or two were angry. I have no idea if they cherry-picked the ones who got into the movie.) But the fact is, anti-immigrant, anti-foreigner sentiment is rife all across Europe, not just here in the Wall-Building Kingdom of Trump.

The movie concludes with news images of riots in many countries, all aimed at foreigners. And yesterday I saw news footage of a meeting of the so-called alt.right group the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.” When their leader, the despicable neo-Nazi Richard B. Spencer, shouted out “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail Victory!” the audience stood cheering and making the Nazi salute. This was in the Reagan Building, just a few blocks from the White House. Of course, Trump disavows them, but own up to it, asshole. These are your core group, your people …