Hitler: The Rise of Evil
- TV Mini Series
- 2h 10m
A unique slant, profiling the life of Adolf Hitler as a child and his rise through the ranks of the National Socialist German Workers' Party prior to World War II.A unique slant, profiling the life of Adolf Hitler as a child and his rise through the ranks of the National Socialist German Workers' Party prior to World War II.A unique slant, profiling the life of Adolf Hitler as a child and his rise through the ranks of the National Socialist German Workers' Party prior to World War II.
Peter Stormare is perfect as Ernst Rohm, the brutal Brownshirt leader. Each scene he has with Hitler is explosive! Hitler is so evil he dominates everyone but the thuggish, primitive Rohm -- and he clearly digs Rohm for just that reason. The interplay between Stormare and Carlisle illuminates the way Hitler relished Rohm's brutality, but later sacrificed him for political reasons.
Jena Malone turns in a heartrending performance as Geli Raubal, Hitler's doomed niece and the victim of his unspeakable perversions. Without revealing any of the sexual filth directly, Jena Malone plays out all the horror of the slow extinction of a young girl's spirit. She uses her eyes and voice to suggest all the horror that will be visited on millions in the years to come. And she's brilliant! Zoe Telford very nearly matches Jena Malone with her portrayal of Eva Braun. Eva is clearly sick, cruel and heartless -- but at the same time almost pitiably dependent on her Adolph's twisted tenderness. The aborted lovemaking scene between them (hinting at the spine tingling truth of Hitler's enormous self-loathing) is both chilling and erotic.
Liev Schrieber gives a deliciously weasel-like performance as Putzi Hanfstaengel, the spineless man-about-town who is seduced by Hitler's promises of wealth and power. While a brute like Rohm simply loves the idea of crushing skulls under his boots, Schrieber's character is one of many Germans who abhors Nazi violence but can't resist the quick and easy route to money and power. His weak-willed fawning over Hitler soon loses him the respect of his wife, played with style and sensuality by the stunning and regal Julianna Margulies. They provide a true portrait of marriage and betrayal.
These performances carry the mini series along, easily overcoming occasional weaknesses in the script. There is one exception. Regrettably, Matthew Modine's acting chops just aren't up to snuff. His noble lunk-haid journalist ruins every scene he has -- the viewer can hardly wait for Rohm's brown-shirts to stomp that smug, righteous look off his ignorant, corn-pone low-rent Hollywood golden boy face. But the story still works.
Now in regard to the factual inaccuracies of the script -- Hitler's perversions and cruelty are rendered in a vibrant, compelling drama. But the battlefield record of Corporal Hitler is badly distorted. As if afraid the audience can't handle the idea of evil and courage in the same person, the writers make Hitler look like a whining coward who "begged" for an Iron Cross. As if anyone in the Kaiser's Army could get a medal just by whining about it! The movie makes it look as if Hitler were a coward in the trenches, when he was a fearless soldier. They also suggest his comrades despised him, when in reality he was widely admired by officers and enlisted men alike. The depressing thing is that the mini-series succeeds so well in representing Hitler as a monster in honest ways -- but they just couldn't resist the cheap shot.
All in all, however, Hitler: RISE OF EVIL is a soaring success highlighted by powerful performances.
- Jan 28, 2006