This film has been on the cards for a while and finally popped onto Netflix a week or so ago, perfect timing for Blog Free & Die Hard Month.
As with so many books, I have yet to read this one but I was pretty excited to get on board the film adaptation (even though I have nothing to compare it to).
So how was it? Is a film about the returned Fürher a difficult one to stomach? I’ll let you know my thoughts below.
Look Who’s Back (2015)
IMDB Synopsis: Adolf Hitler wakes up to find himself in the 21st century. From there he pursues a career as a standup comedian.
I don’t think IMDB’s synopsis really sells the premise of this story correctly. Although Hitler does go on to be classed as a comedian, it’s not as if he himself forges a career in this field. He’s just being Hitler, yo.
Anyway. For a film about a newly risen Hitler I actually found a lot to like and I laughed out loud throughout several scenes, one of which was very dark and made me question my life choices. More on that shortly.
Hitler wakes up in a vacant lot in 2014 and is understandably befuddled. He runs into some kids who don’t get him and, as he is quickly forced to adapt to modern life, he starts to think the world has gone completely mad.
On the streets with nothing to his name, he is rescued by a kindly newspaper kiosk owner who lets him stay for a few nights (this is handy as he can catch up on current affairs while he stays). The kiosk owner also encourages Hitler to have his uniform cleaned because he stinks (which leads to some amusement as he strips down at the dry cleaners).
Meanwhile, we meet Fabian Sawatzki (Fabian Busch), a downtrodden would-be film maker recently fired from the TV Network he’s been struggling at. All he wishes for is the perfect scoop to get him back in the good graces of his employer. Lucky for him then that he notices Hitler in the background of a film he’s been shooting in the ‘ghetto’, which sends him off in search of AH himself.
Once the two men are united, they go on a road trip of sorts and lots happens. For starters, everybody assumes AH is a method actor and comedian. Reactions are mixed but surprisingly not that negative, not counting a furious dog breeder.
(I laughed long and hard at the bit where Hitler tries to get a dead dog to kiss Fabian while he’s driving. I’m sorry for this because dogs always get killed in films and I HATE IT. However, this exchange was very funny. There are also some quite fun moments when Hitler gives Fabian romantic advice, and they joke about what he’d call a book about life with his wife).
Immigrants seems to get the hardest wrap from the Germans interviewed and so far no mention of the Jews (I think the way they handle this topic is actually very clever).
Fabian tries to get his employer, the horrible Christoph Sensenbrink (Christoph Maria Herbst) to get on board this story but he’s just not that into it. He’s sore having just missed out on promotion to Katja Bellini. AH and Fabian turn up at the studio later with some footage, and Hitler takes it upon himself to interrupt a meeting.
Rather than being enraged by the intrusion, Hitler charms the room and, thinking he’s a very convincing comedic actor, Bellini tells Christoph to find a suitable place on the television for him. There’s also a glimmer of something more sinister between the two (lust) which may or may not come to something later. She also tells him that anything to do with the Jews is off limits and he agrees.
Seeing an opportunity to sabotage Bellini’s flourishing career, Christoph puts AH on popular show “Woah, dude!” which is a sort of current affairs satire type thing with a nasty host who actually blacks up to play Obama/a Muslim woman. PC it ain’t.
Hitler looks as though he might go down like a salad at Christa’s house (as Christoph expects) but then he commands their attention and suddenly – bang! – his rants make him an overnight YouTube sensation. People are agreeing with him! Even the DA’s office pop up having received a complaint about the show but tell Bellini to carry on regardless as they’re such fans.
Christoph continues to seeth and scheme, while Fabian’s relationship with lovely Krömeier (Wulf) takes off (she’s instrumental in bring Hitler up to scratch on modern technology and it’s funny). Hitler seems to be able to do no wrong, until footage of him doing something awful (going back to the dog) looks set to derail him.
I might wind it up here because I think it’s interesting and worth a watch if you feel you can stomach it. Things change considerably for Bellini and Christoph (the term ‘Be careful what you wish for’ seems fitting here), Hitler writes a second book which is turned into a film and is also beaten up by Neo-Nazis. And Fabian makes a distressing discovery.
What will become of Fabian and his dreams? And Hitler?
How far is too far?
This film is not as light-hearted as I’d expected it to be, though why I was expecting it to be all hilarious communication mix-ups and road trip japes I have no idea. It’s actually a nightmare scenario: what if Hitler came back and instead of being quickly dealt with (e.g. locked up/beaten to death), he was able to slowly rise back into power? It doesn’t bear thinking about. Of course it’s not that black and white but it’s shocking how much support he can drum up.
I find it interesting that they play on the fact that Hitler was supposed to be very charismatic and I’m complicit to that by laughing my way through some of his actions. I liked him for the most part and that’s a frightening prospect.
The fact that they banned talk of the Jews (until it was required as a necessary reminder) meant we were able to ‘forget’ just how evil this man really was and focus more on his lesser crimes and how they apply to the modern day. Which I think was quite inspired.
All in all it was quite an interesting film, made me think and made me laugh (right or wrong). It’s 2 hours long but didn’t feel laborious, is in German and subtitled which also didn’t seem so bad – sometimes it felt a little like a Borat sketch but was a little subtler, the ending is pitch black and I won’t lie, is very upsetting.
My Rating: 3.5/5. Thought provoking and very dark.