Director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg examines the rise and fall of the Third Reich in this brooding seven-hour masterpiece, which incorporates puppetry, rear-screen projection, and a Wagnerian ... See full summary »
Director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg examines the rise and fall of the Third Reich in this brooding seven-hour masterpiece, which incorporates puppetry, rear-screen projection, and a Wagnerian score into a singular epic vision. Syberberg, who grew up under Nazi tyranny, ruminates on good and evil and the rest of humanity's complicity in the horrors of the holocaust. Written by
** (out of four) By Aaron Dumont There's something a bit wrong with Our Hitler, the monumental-but-ultimately-shallow roundabout of culture, art, politics and, in general, things as a whole. It teeters, wobbles and gets usually off-balance when stumbling across the line between the realms of sprawling masterpiece and dried-up encyclopedia. It's a bit magical, lucid and shows off all its cold style marked by monologues ranging from misguided to impassioned, but comes up short to its vast promises, ambitions and illusions, even with its massive eight-hour runtime. Taking place inside a snowglobe, Our Hitler, using static long-takes and, as Sontag said, "exploded mental states" (ones that incorporate symbols and designs that are both stunning and flatulent), mainly functions as a slipstream. It tries to rejoice and realign, but eventually can't, whether for the 20th Century or for itself--the endless child's-play interpretations and just plain annoying remarks and near-sermons (the things that hide some brilliant, gorgeous scenes and quotes, from Syberberg's statement on the overuse of the word 'culture' to Hitler playing the molester in Lang's M) turn from daring to stiff, from lively and fiery to sparse and didactic.
In this way, the movie cannot truly express itself; it eventually degenerates to a string of borrowed, drafted mock-expression some of the time (the pseudo-Anger sets and lights, the Wagner-obsessive theater-dream-visuals, the Marker/Mekas essay style but without the truly developed mind, heart, soul and maturity, etc) and all the headsmackingly indulgent image-is-dead, queasy speeches on war, cinema, the psyche, and of course, the "Hollywood fascists" seems not much more than a flea market of insight, passions and emotions--that is, between the momentary universal feelings and fleeting grace, the movie panders to its audience often more than not.
It sinks and spirals down the rabbit hole of beautiful fantasies and dreamscapes, but never keeps on its feet when venturing off into stylistic experiments and wild narrative tones. It's like a Wikipedia retelling of myths and revolution, a textbook summary on a great work of art--it's like the Sans Soleil of long, bored lectures--it seems at the end of the labyrinth, between the bits and pieces of poetry and the glorious feat of it all, coupled with endless faux-metaphysics, clueless excersises in knowledge and philosophical dress-up, you'd be hard-pressed to find much more than drained thought.
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