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|Index||15 reviews in total|
I don't understand why this German satire, which was nominated for an
for Best Foreign Film, has never been released in NTSC video format. There
are numerous lesser foreign films available on video in the US and Canada,
but mysteriously not "Schtonk!". I've wanted to see this movie for years
seized the opportunity the other day when I found it at a movie lover's
video store (Scarecrow Video, Seattle, WA) in PAL format. This required me
to rent a machine that converts the PAL signal, and as I paid the $800
deposit to the store clerk for said machine I joked, "This better be worth
the wait" (and the deposit).
The success of the comedy in "Schtonk!" is due to the fact that it is based in fact. If it weren't for this being an actual event in German history, the ludicrous story would seem just too stupid to be funny. The idiocy of the characters actions is of course embellished, which is why the movie is so good. The magazine reporter desperate for a scandalous scoop is brilliantly played like a man who wants the big story so bad he will believe anything. And he does. Once he stumbles on to the Hitler "diaries" he and the rest of the press can't get enough. This movie obviously works on several levels, some of which I don't quite appreciate being I am not German, but one universal statement is that of the press having the role of gatekeeper, the ability to decide what is a "story", and the consequences when that ability is misused.
I've seen Uwe Ochsenknecht in a couple of Doris Dörrie movies and found him to be a talented comedic actor. His portrayal of the "diaries" forger is one more great performance. The farcical telling of his role in the hoax serves as a vital display of how absurd and fascinating a story this con was. Such details as his reasoning for using the initials F.H. and his taking on the characteristics of Hitler the deeper he got into his work are hilarious subtleties that play an important part in the greater humor of the entire film. The story did seem to drag on in a couple places, perhaps a little more editing could have been implemented, but that won't deter me from recommending this fun satire or seeing it again and again myself. I've been looking forward to seeing "Schtonk!" for the last 12 years, and now that I've seen it I can honestly say I am not disappointed.
This film is a must see for everybody who heard of the Hitler diary affair.
Although the real affair is larger then life, and, according to many even
more absurd that the movie, it is a must see.
The DVD is excellent, and I have watched it over and over again. Scenes are excellent, the way Christiane Hörbiger is addressed by Götz George, over and over again by the title of her late husband. His obsession for detail in restoring the ship he bought and finding Nazi `nick-nacks' It is all just too much to mention. One thing though, the better you know German, and Germany, the better you will understand the in-jokes. A lot of the humour is very subtle, and even in the comments here is misunderstood. Karl Schönböck for instance just claims to be an intimate friend of the Führer, he never was really, he is an fake, just like the diary's. He is brilliant at it. When Uwe Ochsenknecht is selling a painting of Eva Braun he just painted, as an original, Karl Schönböck claims he was there when Hitler painted it. The film just goes on and on like a rollercoaster and it is just unbelievable that Stern fell for this one. When something sounds to good to be true, it is, is a wisdom many people do not seem to have. However, like in House of Games, David Mamets brilliant movie on how scams work, you cannot cheat an honest man.
See this movie, buy the T Shirt, read the book, and never trust somebody who wants to make you rich.
This is one of my all time favorite comedies. It only works if you
manage to see the irony behind it, though. (But it's so obvious that
it's hard to miss). It is easily the best of Dietl's works I've seen so
far and addresses topics such as responsibility of the media, coming to
terms with the past (or rather not coming to terms with it?), greed and
ethics in journalism. The acting (especially Götz George) is awesome.
It's one of those few movies that I can watch over and over again and
still keel over with laughter at some scenes. Konstantin Wecker's score
is one of the best I know and perfectly supports the plot.
Based on the true case (!) of master-forger Konrad Kujau who, in 1983, fooled the renowned German magazine "Stern" by selling it his faked Hitler diaries for millions of Marks. Kujau was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison but was released after 3 years because of cancer. He became so famous through this affair that, in 2006, faked Kujau fakes were sold on ebay.
Against the backdrop of these true events Dietl develops his story of greedy men who bring out the worst in each other and who are going blind to an extend that it borders delusion.
It's a straight 10 out of 10!
I saw this film when I was in Germany in '92. Naturally, I didn't get a lot of the jokes, but to judge from the way the audience was laughing, it really struck a chord with them. However, there were many parts of the movie which even for me were very funny, indeed. I suspect that the less familiar American viewers are with German culture and recent history, the less they will appreciate this movie (which has hardly made a ripple here, not surprisingly).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When the Stern"-magazine, one of Germany's most influential
leftist-liberal mediums, published Adolf Hitler's diaries in 1983, it
had the same effect as if CNN would publish the secret sex e-mails of
Abraham Lincoln: the diaries were as blatantly fake as a three dollar
bill. The magazine, though still ever-present at German newsstands,
never regained its reputation entirely and the view, if not trust, that
the public had of journalism and media would change forever. Most
readers were simply outraged, disappointed and only the most cynical
eyes saw elements of unwanted and very 'brown' (the German synonym for
Director Helmut Dietl has picked up on this humour, having created a farce that remains among the best ever produced in Germany, a land not particularly famous (internationally speaking) for its comedies. It would have been easy for Dietl to poke fun at the "Stern" editors, their greed, corruption and arrogance that were revealed after the scandal but it would have been a cheap shot. Instead, Dietl created a social commentary, holding a slightly distorted mirror into the face of the viewer, forcing them to laugh at their own faults, follies and hypocrisy.
The story is pretty much taken straight from the real-life events: Master-faker Fritz Knobel (Uwe Ochsenknecht) has an inspiration and, after producing fake nude portraits of Eva Braun for aging Nazis (by now disguised as historically interested businessmen), fakes Hitler's diaries, offering them to run-down and out of luck journalist Hermann Willié (Götz George). Willié haggles the diaries off as journalistic sensation to the editors of the newspaper "HHpress" ("Stern"-thinly-disguised). As the money rolls in, tension builds in the minds of deceivers and those allowing themselves to be deceived for the sake of profit; Knobel keeps producing more 'diaries', generally based on the authors own trivial daily life and general being (flatulence and halitosis). Inevitably the scam get's exposed for what it is: the media disgraced, Knobel and Willié make off like bandits, Knobel conning his way into Austria and Willié, either having lost his reason completely or in for one final con, feigning insanity, hijacks the former yacht of Hermann Goering, convinced that Hitler is alive and living in Argentina. (And if you're not convinced that the Fuehrer is alive and well and living in Argentina, then you haven't read enough conspiracy theories).
Heart and soul of this film is the casting: all the actors shine, most of all George, best known in his role of tough-butt cop Schimanski and German synonym for 'machismo' in the 80's, plays a character to slimy, the fragrance of sweat almost permeates the screen. Ochsenknecht's features speak volumes, after seeing her in "Schtonk!", Christiane Hörbiger will forever be the a synonym as Nazi-niece and not to forget Harald Juhnke, in his lifetime known as both "Germany's Frank Sinatra" and "drunkard of the nation", playing George's crooked photo-journalist friend and, in comparison, one of the few voices of reasons in the film. Special credit should go to Ulrich Mühe, whose song and dance during the final part remains one of the films highlights. And, yes, even Veronica Ferres (who, when performing the role of Anna Frank in theatre, animated the audience to shout at the actors playing the Nazis, "she's hiding under the ceiling") could not ruin this film.
If one can blame something on a film it may be that essentially only has one joke, which is the actual premise of the story itself and the triangle love-story of Ochsenknecht, Ferres and Dagmar Manzel, that adds little to nothing to the film and seems rather pointless. Also, if you're not familiar with German mentality, social structure and historic background (going back at least 70 years to a time which many Germans still don't want to talk to much about), a lot of the inside jokes will escape you. The movie isn't as international accessible as, for example, "Das Boot", and, if you're looking for a movie that will make you slap your leg every ten seconds: "Schtonk!" isn't "Airplane" or a Bob Hope film. Rather, it's a film that will make you smirk, perhaps even at yourself.
Interestingly, the strange title of the movie isn't actually a German word (unless you pronounce it like Stunk", which means trouble or bickering) since Charlie Chaplins The Great Dictator" was never popular with German viewers. I leave it to the reader to figure out why but if the readers happen to be Polish or French, let it be said: no, just like us Germans, you didn't raised your right arm in protest either!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In reply to another review regarding the nonsensical title of this clever comedy: 'Schtonk' is a made-up word Charlie Chaplin used in 'The Great Dictator'. His angry "German" rant had this "word" in it, repeatedly. The plot of Schtonk is largely true to the historical events surrounding the alleged Hitler diaries discovered in 1983. If you're unfamiliar with those, stop reading now. The protagonists' name have been changed. Some literary license is taken regarding the journalist who sold the diaries to a popular German magazine. While it's true he was pocketing some of the money exchanging hands, his dating Nazi Hermann Goering's niece at that time is fictional. Also, the art forger who produced the "diaries" ended up doing time in prison, in real life. In the movie he escapes prosecution, accompanied by both his wife and his lover. This 1992 production has the whole elite of German actors of the time pull together to create a delightful screwball comedy. Its irreverence is reminiscent of Lubitsch's 1942 "To Be Or Not To Be'.
As usual, it shows that humour is personal. I think the movie is great. The joke-density, visually, musically and verbally is high, and it is superbly performed. Gotz George is a revelation in this role, as he plays mostly rough, real, troubled men. Jokes are painful as well as light-hearted, the musical score is brilliant, and the still present awe for Hitler is prominently presented as well as ridiculed. The drama unfolds in a fast pace, and is over before you know it. I think, the dislikers expected a very much different approach to the theme, e.g. the commentator who promoted the English version of this journalistic farce. I think it is simply not interesting enough to show that Trevor Roper was sorely misled. The whole point of this German movie is that it shows that the whole affair is largely due to the still present enormous awe of the person of Hitler, and that not only in Germany ! The bizarre notion that "history had to be rewritten, with this discovery" is of course nonsense, which was believed by German journalists as well as foreign experts (or should i say "experts" ). For me this movie is a great German achievement!
Almost 2 hours is a bit two long for its basic story material, hence a film
that has wonderful moments and scenes and plenty of satire, but also moments
of boredom in which nothing (new) happens. Certainly successful in
portraying the circumstances in which a forger could produce the notorious
Hitler Diaries (it happened in 1983 and not only German press but the press
world wide walked into the trap), the film shows that the yellow press and
its sensation-hungry reporters made use of the curious fascination of the
public world wide with the Nazi past.; as Harald Juhnke's character says to
his chief-editor: "(with Hitler) we never had such a famous writer writing
in our magazine ever before!".
For Germany the most painful aspect of the film might be the support for the publication from former Nazis represented by a character played by Karl Schönbock (82 years old here!); as a former intimate friend of Hitler he knows that the diaries are forged but gives full support: the end justifies the means. One of the memorable scenes is the arrival of the guests at the rally of former Nazi's and supporters: a memorable image when the guests walk to the house in the rain under their umbrellas illuminated by torches.
The cast is very good, with Götz George and Uwe Ochsenknecht outstanding. Both have scenes that are side splitting funny: George when he for the first time reads from the diaries and Ochsenknecht when he begins to think, talk and look like Hitler.
But as said, the film is too long for its own good. There are more memorable scenes than the those I have mentioned already, but for instance does the viewer really need to see all 60 diaries made? The use of the old song "La Paloma" in the scene on the boat is a nice idea, but it also takes too long. And what to think of the first scene (before and during the credits); it does not add anything to the things to come and is not funny either.
The for this film composed music itself is mediocre, but the use of recordings of Zarah Leander and that of a small yodel-theme are very clever. All in all: unbalanced, at moments very amusing and certainly worth a view.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was and it is an embarrassing moment for the German magazine
"Stern", what happened while dealing with the famous fake "Hitler
Diaries" which definitely brought them fame but from a different site.
Such a disaster deserves a movie based upon it, describing the
creation, the quotes and the medial attention to Hitler's diaries,
which later were discovered as a grotesque fake. And here we have it.
In a small charming reference to the genius and timeless Charlie Chaplin satire we got a movie that is based on the famous fake of the 80s in which went out into the world. As it is a satire of the actual events the characters are a bit different than in real life. Maybe a few extra situations were included. But this makes it even more funny.
This movie is starring some famous German actors e.g. Uwe Ochsenknecht, Götz George, Ulrich Mühe, Armin Rohde, Harald Juhnke, Veronika Ferres etc. And they all do a great performance in portraying their characters, especially Ochsenknecht as the faker Fritz Knobel/Konrad Kujau who looks more like Hitler himself during the process (I write his handwriting better than my own) and George as the journalist Hermann Willié/Gerd Heidemann who becomes more crazy about the diaries and everything about Hitler that he is willing to do everything, just for a good story and is even willing to buy a bunch of burned book pages and underwear which is sold to him as the ash of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. And even hopes to find the real Hitler alive.
The story is told with many actual details including the famous FH on the diary's cover, instead of AH (for Adolf Hitler), also including the editors' ideas for the meaning of FH, actual quotes, the press conference with the diaries and many more.
Another interesting fact is that this movie not only features a lot of music from the Third Reich (the great Zarah Leander) or related music (Richard Wagner), it also features people who were related to the Third Reich, like Karl Schönböck who was in some Nazi Propaganda movies, like in 1943's "Titanic". Also Götz George's father Heinrich was the biggest actor in the 30s and 40s, starring in the biggest Nazi (propaganda) movies.
Later I also saw the British TV-series "Selling Hitler", which is based on the same events, but features the actual names of the real people and companies. It was also a very good one but it plays in a completely different league than "Schtonk", not only is it longer and gives a more detailed description of the events. But in this movie the directors were more concentrated on describing the story from the German site. So you can't compare these two at all.
I can definitely recommend this movie. It's an entertaining and funny movie, which can be seen again and again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Schtonk" is a German movie that was released back in 1992, so it will
have its 25th anniversary next year. The director is Helmut Dietl and
he is also one of the pretty many writers that worked on the script
here. This one was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar and won
also many other glories during all kinds of awards ceremonies. If you
look at the cast, you will find so many known names if you have an
interest in German cinema: George, Ochsenknecht, Ferres, Mühe,
Hörbiger, Hoppe, Manzel etc. All you have to do is check the cast list
to see who else is in here. No surprise to anybody should be that this
film also received major glories at the German Film Awards, such as
Best Picture, but also lead actor for George. And as a result, this is
possibly the man's most known work today, just because of all the
awards recognition. But it is just one great George performance from a
stellar body of work. I cannot deny I am a fan of his and his
performance here is one reason why. I am not sure if I would call it
his best, but it's right up there with his finest.
As for the other player, some are solid, some are not. The biggest letdown is once again (not surprisingly at all) Veronica Ferres, who simply isn't a good actress and with somebody else in her role, this could have been an even better film I think. It is still fairly decent though. It is about fake Hitler diaries and greedy ruthless authors and journalists who don't care about the truth as long as they become popular. A whole lot of this film is over the top, but it still works somehow and George going pretty hammy at times is even not a problem at all I think. Overall, I believe the late George and the late Dietl make it work. It is nothing you should watch if you are in for a historically accurate film, but there are some pretty funny moments and this film will make you shake your head on more than just one occasion and with that I don't mean because the film is absurd or unrealistic (it is intended that way for comedic purpose), but exactly from a positive perspective about how good of a satire it is at times. Yet there are weak moments and weak performances (not just Ferres, but she stands out negatively) that keep me from giving this an even higher rating and consider it one of the year's best. George elevates the material a lot and makes up for some of the weaker stuff performance-wise too or for an occasional length (not too many), but it's not enough for greatness.
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