Title: Look Who’s Back
Rating: 4 Stars
It’s the year 2015. The scene is the original location of Hitler’s bunker where he killed himself. However, now, in a puff of smoke, Hitler appears. Hitler as he was in 1945. He’s dazed, but then gets up, and starts to live his life again.
That’s the plot of the movie.
It starts out as an amusing fish out of water story. Hitler first goes around behaving as you would expect the Fuhrer to. Having nowhere else to go, Hitler first takes up residence at a newspaper stand, where the proprietor, bemused at this man claiming to be Hitler, takes him in. However, the proprietor doesn’t want a slacker lying around, so he has Hitler do menial tasks like putting out the newspapers and setting up magazine stands. Hitler complies, all the while complaining about this work being below the Fuhrer.
A struggling to survive documentarian, desperate to find a story hook that will allow him to sell himself to the TV network, discovers Hitler, or what he believes to be an comedian that is absolutely true to his character (ala Sacha Baron Cohen). He believes that the comedian’s shtick is a goldmine and manages to convince a newly promoted network head to put him on a comedy show.
Hitler appears on the show, and the audience sits there expectantly waiting for some kind of slapstick Hitler humor. After an awkward pause, Hitler launches into one of his classic histrionic speeches decrying the state of Germany and that all Germans must rise up (Make Germany Great Again!). There’s a few awkward laughs, but both the studio audience and selected people watching at home are mesmerized and find themselves nodding in agreement to Hitler.
The studio audience breaks into wild applause, and the network head, realizing that she has a hit, instantly orders that Hitler be put on as many shows as possible. He becomes ubiquitous, and now with the internet, he becomes a viral sensation, with many youTube comments along the line of, “is it bad that I think Hitler is right?”
The network head’s rival, uncomfortable with having to promote Hitler and wanting to displace the network head, discovers a brutal video of Hitler ruthlessly shooting a dog. This gets leaked, and in the uproar that follows, Hitler falls into disgrace, the studio head is fired, and her rival takes her job.
In the aftermath of Hitler leaving the network, its rating plummet. In one hilarious scene, the new network head reenacts the famous Hitler scene from Downfall. In the meantime, Hitler has penned a sequel to Mein Kampf, which is a huge bestseller. Desperate to save his network, the network head agrees to view a film being made that is based on Hitler’s life, which interestingly enough, is the very movie that we’re actually watching.
By the end, Hitler is driving in an open car through the streets of Germany, waving to his fellow Germans. It’s not clear if he will regain power or not, but it is certainly not out of the question.
The first theme is the obvious one, could it happen again? Clearly, with the wave of anti-immigration and nationalism that is taking hold of Europe (and the US for that matter), the film makers answer would be yes. Hitler only speaks overtly what the other anti-immigration nationalist leaders speak in dog whistles. The overt truth is so appealing that it dramatically increases his popularity. The parallels to what’s happening in the US right now should also not be ignored.
The second theme is ambition. Hitler does not happen by himself. The documentarian uses Hitler to gain a job at the network. The first network head uses Hitler to further her career. The second network head uses Hitler first to destroy the first’s career, and then again to salvage his own. None of these people are national socialists and would be horrified to be identified as such, but their actions further the cause nonetheless. In fact, Hitler would still be going around helping out the newspaper stand proprietor if he wasn’t sought out for others’ ambitions.
It doesn’t take evil to make evil.