Friday, April 24, 2009

Hitler: The Rise of Evil (Christian Duguay 2003)

Convex angles of a wide lens oscillate the foreground against background, a constant of its reality as the motion of Michael Bay's alternate universes unceasingly breathe off of (the only briefly applied) Deep Zooms of Vertigo and Jaws. Duguay's near consistent intra-frame tertiary executes the visceral immediacy of violence but the exaggerated spaces mainly execute history as psychology and Hitler arrives psychologically fully formed after the opening credit sequence summary of childhood.The rounded edges make literal mental interiors and the TV movie's institutional limitations and its historical and political obligations confine the direction to the didactic end. Similarly, The Godfather and Cabaret are short-handed as reference points, a deliberate distancing from the anchors of historical authenticity.

A brief gag on the violence of kitsch in the Nazi propaganda innovations: A future (and eventually regretful) right-wing sympathizer of the Fuhrer spotting him in the primitive beer hall speechifying days, noting that Hitler "is a cartoon" but begins his pull into the whirlpool. And of course there's the important discovery of the mustache, "The Chaplin", which I once had myself and regret feeling obligated to shave because of the day-today dangers therein. I wore the mustache to feel more closely aligned with icons of clownishness, failure, i.e. a spiritual self beyond my own time. Granted, a gesture I might have not pursued had history had been altered such that Hitler had not already ruined it for everyone.

The question arises if the Nazi conclusions would have been reached without Hitler, but something outside the frame, the transgressive death work is always waiting and desired. By giving a concrete articulation of and extending the language of the transgressive, the Nazi image-makers made it easier for the the transgressive world/self to fall more easily inward. It's not 1/100th as resonate or brilliant as the reverse Wagner of "Hitler: A Film from Germany" (Syberberg 1978), but that's the best film ever made.