Hitler Takes It on the Chin in Holocaust Comedy
Although bodaciously billed as a tale dispensing God’s honest truth about Adolf Hitler, this flick is actually more akin to an episode of Hogan Heroes than any World War II documentary you might find on the History Channel. And it’s almost as funny as that classic TV sitcom, provided you don’t mind laughing out loud at events surrounding the Holocaust.
The story is set in December of 1944, at a time when the nefarious Nazi leaders are ostensibly aware that their cause is all but lost with their army in retreat and being defeated on practically every battlefront. So, according to this fictionalized account of historical events, the country’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) hatches a desperate plan to save the regime.
The idea is to have the Fuhrer (Helge Schneider) reignite the sagging spirits of the German people and to mobilize the masses by delivering an impassioned propaganda speech on New Year’s Day. The trouble is that Jaanuary 1st is less than a week away and Adolf himself is an emotional basket case, being sick and depressed, and unwilling to appear in public.
Ironically, the Nazis last hope rests with finding Adolf Grunbaum (Ulrich Muhe), a Jew who has long since been deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. For he had served as Hitler’s acting coach and had helped launch the Fuhrer’s political career. Grunbaum agrees on the condition that his wife (Adriana Altaras) and four children are spared the ovens.
Under the watchful eyes of Hitler’s Henchmen Goebbels, Himmler (Ulrich Noethen), Bormann (Udo Kroschwald) and Speer (Stefan Kurt) via a one-way mirror, Grunbaum proceeds to whip his former student back into shape, literalluy, employing a combination of psychotherapy and a form of tough love involving increasingly humiliating forms of corporal punishment.
So unfolds My Fuhrer: The Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler, a hilarious pack of lies written and directed by Dani Levy which by the closing credits suggest that Hitler was everything from a Jew to sexually-frustrated to a drug addict to an alcoholic who preferred blondes and turned people into Soylent Green-like sausages. The tension builds as the movie makes its inexorable march to the New Year’s Day address, although guffaws galore are in store when guess who is asked to deliver the critical speech after the Fuhrer suddenly develops a case of laryngitis.
The thought-provoking picture makes some subtle points along its merry way, for instance that while Hitler was big on blond hair and blue eyes, he himself had neither. Also, it shows that by the end of the war he and his master race had been reduced to “sauerkraut.” So much for an empire that would last for a thousand years.
The cleverest Holocaust humor since Mel Brooks’ “Springtime for Hitler” skit in The Producers.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
In German, Hebrew and Yiddish with subtitles.
Running time: 89 minutes
Studio: First Run Features