Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland, Teil III: Das Ende eines Wintermärchens

Hitler, elokuva Saksasta III: Talvisen tarinan loppu / Hitler, a Film from Germany III: The End of Winter's Tale. Das Ende eines Wintermärchens und der Endsieg des Fortschritts / The End of Winter's Tale and the Final Victory of Progress. For credits see 29 March. 97 min. A brilliant 35mm print with e-subtitles in Finnish by Pirjo Brech. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 31 March 2005. SYBERBERG: "The child reappears, its eyes closed, and in the background the voice of Goebbels declares that faith can move mountains.
Heinz Schubert as Himmler; Himmler as Grand Inquisitor of the German Empire in conversation with his masseur, Felix Kersten. He expresses his visions of fear and horror, his racial convictions and his belief in the extermination they must wage, however hideous it will seem to the German people. A series of SS figures appears. One after another they describe the cruelty and atrocities their victims must suffer. Kersten remarks that he would be afraid to have to account for the misdeeds of the times. Himmler reassures him that they must all take this sacrifice upon themselves, not out of personal motives, but as a deed for the entire German good. He admits the great suffering the Jews will have to bear, compares it, however, to the cruelties that others have committed in this world, the extermination of the Red Indians by the Americans, for example. "It is the curse of greatness that its path is strewn with corpses". He begs Kersten not to leave him alone, kisses his hand.
Kersten and Himmler's astrologer meet at the place Himmler had chosen as the centre of the new order. Kersten pleads with the astrologer to relate his own fabricated prophecy to Himmler, instead of the true future he can read in the stars. But the astrologer refuses. One cannot make terms with the stars. They are not subject to human corruption.
Himmler at an SS banquet: he speaks of his abstinence, of his Buddhism, and his belief in astrology, and warns the astrologer of the need to persuade people that they are fighting a war for the right cause. They go into another room alone. The astrologer foretells Hitler's death in April 1945. Himmler is sceptical, but remembers the accuracy of previous predictions. The astrologer then considers the constellation of Himmler's own birth and character, and his end.
A series of scenes shows Hitler's Obersalzberg house from its conversion, through the bombing, to its final destruction. The recorded voices of Goebbels and later Hitler can be heard. In front of one of the remaining structures on the Obersalzberg an admirer of Hitler (Peter Kern) puts himself into the role of Hitler's servant. He wanders through the ruins, confiding anecdotes of his time with Hitler, whilst in the background the wartime radio makes contact with the far flung fronts of the German Army. Finally, he sits down at a table on the overgrown terrace of the house. While he is eating and gossiping about the Führer's private life, his transistor emits sounds of the Nazi past. He ends his monologue in tears to the sound of an old German anthem.
Hitler as a ventriloquist's dummy on Harry Baer's knees; fragments of comic music, Wagner and Nazi songs. In a dialogue with the ventriloquist, the Hitler dummy complains that he is being misused. The ventriloquist replies that it is all in the cause of business - art and film. They discuss what Hitler had destroyed in his time, how it had taken 20 years to make proper films again in Germany. The Hitler dummy says that, unlike the ventriloquist, he was unable to build his world in art, but had to turn to politics to realise his dreams, salubrious environment. He goes on to list his long term achievements in Europe. "What would the map of Europe be without me?" Nobody had ever changed the face of the Western world so completely; the Russians on the Elbe; the Jews with their own state, and the USA with a new colony. Consider where the great new market for Hollywood lies. Look at all the deaths in Russia. A stroke of genius to classify opposition as mental disturbance and imprison it. Ideas transcend frontiers. The Germany of the Third Reich was but a prelude to the world theatre. The heirs are everywhere, in Africa, in Asia, in America, north and south, and in Europe, in Germany, today". (BFI Catalogue for the Edinburgh Film Festival 1992).

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