Face to face with power

Hitler : A Film from Germany

Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland
Hitler, un film d'Allemagne

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg

1977Germany442 minColour and B&W


Questioning the figure of an out-of-the-ordinary man, the filmmaker seeks to deconstruct and understand the seductive power of the imaginary worlds staged by Hitler himself. 

PRINT SOURCE: Syberberg Filmproduktion, film@syberberg.de

Syberberg is the one who calls on us, the spectators of his film, to serve as jury members at the trial that, as spokesman for the new German cinema of Herzog, Fassbinder, Schlöndorff, Kluge, Wenders and others, he brings against the dictator. The trial is that of Nazism and the masses whose responsibility in the German catastrophe still seems to him obscured by the political and artistic conformism that dominates the post-war economic miracle. Hitler, a film from Germany has to go through the Fürher’s accession to power, the dictatorship, the war, the extermination, the defeat in order to make us understand how the dictator still haunts a Germany that would like to forget him. As the filmmaker writes, it is because the Germans are “persuaded that they are better than the others that the dead that we have on our conscience are still looking for their Nuremberg”. But filmmaker-Syberberg also wages a strictly cinematographic war against filmmaker-Hitler, who took control of the film industry in order to establish his fiction and made the World War the subject of news documentaries : “Hitler prevented German cinema from existing for 20 years” until its rebirth thanks to Oberhausen Manifesto. Seven hours are not too long to re-appropriate the images and words confiscated by Nazism. In this battle, there is also a crucial figurative reflection on the cinematographic bodies that Hitler and the Nazi dignitaries can don in 1977. Syberberg chooses to turn Hitler into a puppet, a doll, a dummy, in short, to show him as the rotting corpse of German history: no question of bringing him back to life by dressing him in the body of a fiction-film actor.
–Pierre Gras (“Deuil impossible; combat necessaire”, DVD booklet, Floris Films, 2012)

  • PRODUCTION : Bernd Eichinger
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