Adolf Hitler faces himself and must come to terms with his infamous career in an imaginary post-war subterranean bunker where he reviews historical films, dictates his memoirs and ...
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Adolf Hitler faces himself and must come to terms with his infamous career in an imaginary post-war subterranean bunker where he reviews historical films, dictates his memoirs and encounters Eva Braun, Josef Goebbels, Hermann Göring and Sigmund Freud.Written by
In a scene when Hitler and Freud are talking, Hitler is wearing his gray army uniform with a swastika armband. The armband should not be there. An emblem of a eagle astride a swastika should be there. See more »
Before us lies Germany, within us marches Germany, and after us comes Germany!
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There are many ways to portray Hitler. One is to trivialize him by making him funny ("The Producers," "The Great Dictator"). Another is simply to pronounce him "evil, and that's all you need to know about him." Those who do the latter are doing a great disservice to themselves, because in order to prevent another Hitler, another Third Reich, we must allow ourselves to get inside the head of this megalomaniac who, along with killing 6 million Jews (well, 5.7 million according to the movie Hitler) and 5.5 million "people of Christian origin," turned the most civilized country in Europe into a nation of barbarism, then into a ruin.
"The Empty Mirror" parallels the Third Reich in that it shows Hitler, dictating his memoirs in Hell, gradually disintegrating both emotionally and physically as he confronts the enormity of his horrific actions.
Yes, this movie would be considered politically incorrect by some for not portraying Hitler as a two-dimensional monster, all fire and brimstone, but showing that he had actual human emotions, had fallen in love with a facade of his own (and Dr. Goebbels) creation, and learning that once the facade was demolished, what lived behind it was a puny, cowardly man.
Acting was terrific on all counts. Rodway, although physically far more imposing than the Fuhrer, did an excellent job as his character alternated between lucidity and madness. Joel Grey was a splendid Dr. Josef Goebbels, a sarcastic smart-ass who was perhaps the world's first spin doctor. The Eva Braun character was both sweet and pathetic as Hitler's airheaded mistress, then wife, who wanted nothing more than attention from him. But most frightening were the little blond Deutsche Kinder who were mesmerized by Onkel Adolf, in the same way that 70 million Germans were during the 12 years of the Thousand Year Reich.
In one of the more revealing moments of the film, Hitler belittles Stalin, saying the latter will be simply a blip on the radar screen of life (I'm paraphrasing). He, of course, was right. Stalin may have killed more, and the KGB certainly matched the Gestapo in cruelty, but Russia was and is a nation where human life is cheap. Germany was not and is not, except for those 12 years.
While this isn't easy viewing, and requires some knowledge of history, it should be required viewing in high school Modern European History courses, along with "Schindler's List" and "Judgment at Nuremberg." If we understand Hitler, and how he was able to mesmerize 70 million otherwise highly intelligent people, then history will be far less likely to repeat itself.
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