The alternative look at the atrocity of the Nazi regime makes this interesting and engaging
When I taped this film I think I had misunderstood what it was going to be about. It was on BBC4 and followed on after a screening of Mel Brooks' The Producers and I assumed it would be about Hitler as a general figure of fun in film etc. This is technically the case but the film is much more focused than covering Chaplin and Brooks. Rather it looks at the clampdown on satire and other undesirable comedians as the Third Reich grew in power.
This engaged me quite easily because the plight of specific groups (or "art") tends to get lost in the scale of the much bigger human cost of WWII. However here the film looks at how satire and jokes at Hitler's expense were encouraged to some degree as he came into power but gradually anything deemed "subversive" was squeezed out and telling such jokes gradually became more and more dangerous. We hear about German comedians who are sentenced to hard labour in camps or even death as punishment for making jokes. This is recalled with well chosen recollections from a couple of people involved in the period and it serves to only make things worse by not being at all surprising.
After this the film explores the general sense of humour on the street as the war started to turn back against German cities and civilians, where understandably there was a certain amount of gallows humour. Throughout the film the jokes are recreated here and there by two German comedians but the problem for me was, in the version I saw the English dubbing over the top more or less took everything away from their delivery meaning that I didn't think they worked for most of their routines.
Despite this though the film is still an interesting documentary that looks closer at one aspect of the Nazi regime. There are plenty of better films that look at the wider subject but this one is engaging in its focus and subject.
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