By Quentin Basnaw
Have you ever wondered why people make jokes about Adolf Hitler? Adolf Hitler, the same man who rallied a country to fervently support him and his campaign to revive Germany? A campaign that caused the deaths of fifty million people? Six million of those fifty million were executed because Adolf Hitler believed them to be less than human. Yet here we are, in a world where distasteful Anne Frank and Holocaust jokes are a plenty, and a comedy film about Hitler can be made. I find this deeply reflective and frightening.
Look Who’s Back is a German production that sees Adolf Hitler transported to modern Germany. Why does this happen? It’s not explained, nor is it important. What follows is an interesting, humorful, and haunting tale about Hitler navigating the modern landscape. Of course, he has many “haha” moments where he walks around and is confused by the modern Germany. These moments are legitimately hilarious. Eventually, however, he discovers the modern television. And the Internet. And he realizes how wonderful these modern inventions can be used for propaganda.
Meanwhile, the citizens of Germany think Hitler is an incredibly dedicated comedic method actor. When Hitler delivers his passionate monologues to the masses, we see the results: people are enthralled at this interesting “humor,” and they even start to agree with some of his sentiments. It’s unsettling, especially because the people only consider Hitler a joke. Then he starts gaining ardent Neo-Nazi followers. Hitler’s messages that “speak” to the people are about immigrants and stagnating economies. They are all too familiar, and the responses from the average people are even more so.
This is the type of writing I can appreciate. They may make a ton of jokes (mainly coming from Hitler being a horrible person who says the worst things possible for the shock value), but by the third act, one of the people who has gotten tired of “actor Hitler” preaches about how this stuff, at the end of the day, shouldn’t be funny. The person defending Hitler’s humor claims, “It’s just satire. Bringing awareness to things.” The detractor responds, “Satire? Hitler is just an a@#hole!” I concur: the movie makes you feel bad for laughing at the situations earlier in the film, because we have now seen the result of people not being offended by this “comedic” act.
From a filmmaking perspective, the film is a bit odd to get used to because the film creates a narrative around different “viral pranks” of the main actor walking around as Hitler to get real people’s reactions. Some find the situation funny. Others, typically older Germans, condemn the “actor” for dressing as Hitler and the other citizens for playing along in a such a display. This style of telling the story hit home for me, since there are people who will just follow along when a situation is presented to them, not unlike the fictional character’s present in this film. People nowadays wonder how Hitler came to power to begin with; he was absolutely horrible, right? Hitler answers this in film, “The people elected me.” That’s when this oddly entertaining yet unsettling movie had me reeling. It suggests that no matter when or where, there will always be sentiments that allow for the rise of people like Hitler.
Overall, if you can handle dark humor such as this (Hitler walking around commenting on everything like a Nazi would), you will enjoy Look Who’s Back. If even the smallest thought of Hitler upsets you, this movie, despite the clever commentary, is not for you. I, for one, recommend it, and you can find it on Netflix if you’re interested.