Look Who’s Back – Review
Look Who’s Back (Er ist wieder da) welds comedy with social satire to ponder upon the present and the way we have become immune to violence. David Wnedt adapts the same title name bestseller by Timur Vermes, and plunges us into Berlin’s summer of 2014.
Adolf Hitler (Oliver Masucci) inexplicably wakes up in the park of a residential area, where his bunker used to be at the time of the Third Reich. Seventy years have gone by from his “disappearance.” The war is over, his party no longer exists, his beloved Eva isn’t there to comfort him, and German society has changed in his regards, even children mock him. A reporter (Fabian Busch) recognizes him and finds that his impersonation of the Führer is worth filming. Thus their road trip begins, capturing on camera Hitler’s encounters across the nation. The phenomenon of what seems to be the interpretation of an incredibly talented comedian starts to go viral.
After the internet, Adolf Hitler conquers the small screen. His television career grows rapidly, until one of his acts of rage puts it to an end. However he will not cease to find ways to rise to stardom again. Despite he has always claimed to be the real Adolf Hitler, the entire world keeps believing he is an actor deeply engaged in the role, until one day someone close to him discovers the contrary, and how the intentions of the leader of the Nazi Party might still be the ones of the Holocaust era.
The script written by director David Wnedt — with Mizzi Meyer, Marco Kreuzpaintner, and Johannes Boss — wittily enhances Timur Vermes’ novel, that was the first best seller for twenty consecutive weeks. It sold two million copies in Germany alone, and was translated to be distributed in over forty countries, including US, UK, France, Russia, Japan and China.
The film is not a mere adaptation for the big screen. Oliver Masucci co-stars with top-notch colleagues — such as Fabian Busch, Christoph Maria Herbst and Katja Riemann — and at the same time, his Hitler, also meets with the average man. Farmers, entrepreneurs, celebrities, young politicians, journalists, hipsters and Neo-Nazis express their opinions on the current state of affairs of their beloved Deutschland.
This is an idea the director had and developed for the silver screen, to make Hitler’s interaction with the people of the twenty first century more effective. This choice proves to highlight how the most controversial of dictators can perfectly mingle with the crowd to gain political consensus. In this fashion Adolf Hitler becomes a pop star: people want to take selfies with him. They confide in this bizarre character. Others disdain the celebration of the founder of the Nazi Party. Whereas the new generations who would like to reprise his political manifesto, Mein Kampf, find him excessively moderate and subservient to the entertainment business.
The innocent eye who leads us through this sociological voyage is that of the ingenuous and idealistic reporter Fabian. He is utterly naive in his approach with the Führer, who gets “Back To The Future” in present-day multi-cultural Germany. Just like Marty McFly (attentive cinephiles will notice Fabian wears the same outfit), he takes a while before realizing the potentially horrific consequences of this fanatic. Despite time travel and a confrontation with a different world, Hitler still believes in anti-Semitism and the necessity of establishing a New Order. He is cautious in not expressing it to the public, but it seems only a matter of time before the man who still believes in Pan-Germanism uncovers his racism.
Er ist wieder da movie, has been a box-office hit in Germany, grossing 19.6 million euros ($21.8 million) since its release in October. No wonder Netflix took worldwide rights to premiere it on April 9. The success of this narrative lies in the fact that it is more than a politically incorrect Borat-like comedy, and way beyond a mockumentary. It is food for thought, that triggers young generations not to forget the past. History is cyclical and keeps repeating itself.
The world has now become the global village that Marshall McLuhan predicted, with multiple pieces of information instantly traveling through time and space. We are thusly overwhelmed and narcotized by the access to all kinds of news; consequently sensationalism has taken over. Spectacularization in the media and in every form of communication prevails to grab viewers’ attention, through the glorification of violence.
It is thusly difficult to develop criticism on all that surrounds us. But director Wnedt found the opportune way to ring a warning bell, through humour and paradox…although — alas — the final credits prove that certain extreme ideas are not so far from reality after all. Look Who’s Back is a beautiful movie that prompts to raise public awareness to act conscientiously.
Additionally, the film does not forget to be satirical on the fact that Adolf Hitler’s first professional aspiration was to become an artist. Wnedt shows him as he draws ghastly caricatures of people in the streets. If art actually portrays each artist’s inner world, Hitler fully expresses his ferocity in pictures — which would have better been expressed only on paper or canvas. This moment in the movie truly leaves audiences wondering: what would have happened had not The Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna rejected young Adolf in 1907, and again in 1908, citing he showed “unfitness for painting”?