Genre: Documentary, Docu-Drama
Title: "Hitler" aka "Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland", "Hitler, a Film from Germany" or "Hitler, un film d'Allemagne"
Director: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
Language: German, English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Features: Extracts from the film Premiere in New York, essay collection
Our Hitler, is the greatest attempt so far to capture not only who and what the Führer was, but also his modern day resonance.
Wave after wave of monologue, diatribe, historical re-enactment is spread across twenty-two “tableaux” broken into four segments, two per Disc. Each “tableaux” is densely packed both visually and audibly.
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s film is nearly seven hours long but draws the viewer deep into the mythopoetic meanings of the romantic Germanic tradition using a variety of media (everything from puppets to straightforward theatre and monologues) this colossal achievement was first released in 1978 and distributed by the cinematic luminary Francis Ford Coppola.
The director has spent many years digitising his magnum opus and fans have been able to monitor this progress on his website http://www.syberberg.de/
where the four separate segments were viewable in QuickTime format. The final products are two, dual-layer discs and a thick, essay laden booklet. Despite Syberberg’s painstaking efforts some of the limitations of the source material are revealed in the occasional reel-change mark and one or two glitches in the audio. Nevertheless, Syberberg extensively used archive material so it follows that inconsistencies in presentation may the result of inherent faults in primary source footage or audio. Most of the film is in German with subtitles, though there is an English language track for some of the narration and voice-overs.
On a 400 minute DVD you would be forgiven for not expecting any extras; however this Directors Authorized edition includes a 20 minute short featuring high-lights of the films premiere in New York including interviews with high-brow critics such as Susan Sontag and Andrew Sarris.
This film will not be to all tastes, it certainly attempts to walk that narrow line between pretentious and high-art avant-garde. No doubt some viewers will be put off by the stagey feel and the occasional error in the subtitles [“milliard” instead of “million” for example”]. But those acquainted with German expressionism and cinema in general will appreciate nods to past cinematic triumphs such as “The Cabinet of Caligari”.
In summary, this vast masterpiece for anyone interested in German cinema or the mythological aspects of Hitler and the Third Reich.