CYNICISM AT THE CINEMA: ‘Look Who’s Back’ an unlikely combination of comedy and neo-Nazi terror (trailer included)

(Photo used by permission of Wikimedia Commons)
A scene from “Er ist Wieder da” or “Look Who’s Back” is shot in a car in November 2014.

Movie aficionado sophomore Chardonnay Needler reviews films biweekly in “Cynicism at the Cinema.”

Er ist Wieder da.” With a name like that, I knew it had to be good.

There’s something about the German language causes mixed emotions.

On one hand, there are some words that just look and sound goofy with strange accent marks and absurdly long combinations of consonants.

But at the same time, it sounds so rough, and, in a movie about Adolf Hitler, slightly frightening.

And it’s that combination of terror and humor that makes “Look Who’s Back” unique.

The movie begins with bumbling and confused Hitler waking up in modern-day Berlin and barking orders at innocent civilians and children, only to be left more confused as to why they began flipping out their phones for selfies instead of obeying.

Part of me felt guilty as I chuckled while watching Oliver Masucci’s portrayal of Hitler flipping through newspapers from 2014 (the year the movie was released) and complaining about how “the Ottoman Empire is staying strong” and how all of his efforts have been dissolved.

When Hitler tried to understand how to use a computer, he didn’t seem different from my grandparents in that moment, screaming at the computer in his confusion.

Heck, it also further jabbed at society after showing that there were already so many email and Twitter accounts under the name “Adolf Hitler.”

Yet the minute something was becoming funny, the character would say something a little frightening, such as vocalizing his thoughts about how to achieve world domination, suddenly reminding me that this was serious sociopolitical satire wrapped inside of a comedy.

And the producers and screenwriters beautifully wrote the supporting characters to match the viewer’s reactions.

In foreign-language films it’s easier to appreciate good non-vocal acting, and I was not let down by the fabulous visual performances of the acclaimed German actor Fabian Busch.

His character, Fabian Sawatzki, is your average struggling journalist, who is freshly laid off from the television station MyTV.

But he’s in luck after spotting Hitler in the background of one of his old shots and promptly decides to share this scandal with his ex-boss under one condition: that he could regain his job if a TV show featuring Hitler turned out to be a hit.

Throughout the film, from hearing about how Hitler feels about modern-day rap music to Hitler’s shooting a dog on a road trip, Sawatzki reacts like any one of us would, and is truly the bridge to the audience.

But besides all the comedy, there are definite dark themes lying beneath.

At first, the viewer, as well as the characters in the movie, don’t take Hitler seriously. We’re caught off guard by this image of an out-of-place man, not understanding that he is the same evil totalitarian he was in WWII.

Hitler becomes popular among the Germans of the modern world, making TV show appearances and amassing fans and followers.

Gone are the days of forceful propaganda, for now the people gobble up his messages of hate and fear tactics on their own accord.

That’s why it takes Sawatzki until the very end to realize his selfish quest to regain his petty job allowed Hitler to win.

And he could do nothing about it, for Hitler and he, an ordinary man, were the same.

At the end, there was a mini-documentary of Masucci in his führer costume walking amidst German civilians.

Their responses were mixed.

“Bring back labor camps!” an enthusiastic elderly man responds.

Groups of college students huddle around Masucci, putting their fingers up like fake moustaches.

“You can’t get rid of me –  I’m a part of you; I’m a part of all of you,” are some of Hitler’s last words as the screen fades to black.

I wasn’t laughing anymore.

“Look Who’s Back” starts as a blitzkrieg of comedy but ends as a grim warning.

By Chardonnay Needler

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