In this powerfully original film, director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg creates an epic nightmare that ruminates on Adolf Hitler and the effect he continues to wield over Germany. — In a series of 22 tableaux set on a soundstage, ... more »Syberberg makes use of puppets, props, a thundering Wagnerian soundtrack, and rear-screen projection to evoke Nazi Germany, the origins of the Third Reich, and the disturbing aftermath that followed. Neither a feature film nor a conventional documentary, OUR HITLER is a seven-and-a-half-hour fever dream on coming to terms with Nazism. Originally distributed by Francis Coppola s Zoetrope Studios, this controversial film was hailed by Coppola as a work that made all other films of the time trivial or obsolete.« less
"This is a very rare film, unavailable in the U.S. for several years.
In 1977, Syberberg made a statement during an interview: "I think in five to ten years, the filmmaking business will shift from the way of the movie theater to the house. People will watch films like they listen to records - on cassettes on a big wall". The timescale and medium may be wrong, but he was right about the trend.
At more than seven hours, 'Our Hitler' is an ideal example of a film which is virtually unwatchable in a theater setting, but perfect for the home environment, where the action can be paused and restarted at will, and spread over several evenings, if necessary.
Syberberg's style is unmistakeable, combining front-projected images, stage props, tableaux and puppets, overlaid with Wagner's music and long monologues. Daunting? Not at all. The key to appreciating this wonderful film is to pace your viewing. Think more in terms of atmosphere rather than action, content rather than plot. A knowledge of German history and culture is useful, but not essential. Just sit back and allow the film to to enter your mind.
The twin DVD set includes the four parts of the film, plus fragments of a documentary produced when the film was first shown in New York. The documentary is derived from a badly-deteriorated VHS copy, and is riddled with sound dropouts and tracking errors, but is still fascinating. The package also includes a fifty-page guide to the film (which is handy for those of us who can't recognize Thomas Mann when we see him). The booklet includes reviews by Susan Sontag and Anton Kaes.
The film itself is available in the English or German versions. The chosen language determines the language of the subtitles and some of the voiceovers.
I saw this film many years ago, on British television. I've been looking for it ever since. It's marvellous that it should be available on DVD at last. The other two films in this trilogy ('Ludwig - Requiem für einen jungfräulichen König' and 'Karl May') have just been released on DVD in Germany. I hope these titles will soon be available in the U.S. "
Syberberg's brilliant cinematic vision of Nazi Germany.
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 02/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"More controversial for his politics (he has been compared to a young Hitler) than for his aesthetic genius, German film director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg has characterized his work as a cinematic combination of Bertolt Brecht's doctrine of epic theatre and Richard Wagner's operatic aesthetics. Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Studios has released Syberberg's visionary 1977 film, Hitler: ein Film aus Deutschland as Our Hitler in the U.S. Set on a soundstage and using puppets, Syberberg's 442-minute avante-garde film consists of monologues spoken by actors in WWII-era costumes in front of rear-screen projections evoking Nazi Germany, amidst a soundtrack of original audio recordings of German and allied speeches and radio broadcasts, together with music by Wagner, Mahler, Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart. Using props and set designs from the Cinémathèque Française, the film has a surreal, nightmare-like visual style (developed by Henri Langlois), and is structured into four parts:
Part 1: Der Gral ("The Grail") examines Nazi propaganda and Hitler's cult of personality.
Part 2: Ein deutscher Traum ("A German Dream") examines the pre-Nazi cultural, spiritual, and national heritage of Germany.
Part 3: Das Ende eines Wintermärchens ("The End of a Winter's Tale") chronicles the the ideology of the Holocaust, particularly from Himmler's point of view.
Part 4: Wir Kinder der Hölle ("We Children of Hell") depicts Syberberg reading scripts from scenes that were not filmed, and conversing with a puppet of Hitler about how he destroyed Germany spiritually.
Hitler: ein Film aus Deutschland is an equally controversial and compelling one-of-a-kind experience in film.
Truly extraordinary, a once in a lifetime event....a bonafid
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 01/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Susan Sontag called this film "the most extraordinary film I've ever seen". While this may seem hyperbolic, it isn't. This is an extraordinary film, and I completely understand Sontag's adoration of it. This is a brilliant film, one that has had me thinking for days about it. I watched it over 2 nights, and there's so much in it and so much to take in that I'm planning on renting it again or perhaps purchasing it. Despite its nearly 7 1/2 hour length, there isn't one dull moment in it. I only watched it over 2 nights because I had to go to sleep. If I had had the time to watch the whole thing in one sitting, I would have done so without thinking. I haven't felt this glued to the screen in I don't know how long.
The film is absolutely mesmerizing. This film has been unavailable for many, many years, and this is the first time it's been offered on home video. The director, Hans Jurgen Syberberg, had posted the film on his website, but watching it on a TV or projected is the best way to see it. The film is operatic, theatrical, mind bending, sad, haunting, angry, depressing, and just about everything else you can think of. The 4th part is a little boring (the first 30 minutes of part four is one long monologue), but after this monologue is concluded, the film takes off again to a stunning conclusion.
Never does the film feel padded. Like in Wagner's great operas (Wagner figures prominently here), a film like this needs to be long to tell its story, and that should be respected. The actors throughout the film give excellent performances, and the film is one of the most thought provoking films that I've seen in recent memory.
It is interesting to note that this film, despite its mammoth length, cost a mere $500,000 dollars and only took 20 days to shoot (even though the pre-production period was longer than most films). The DVD has an excellent booklet with many essays on the film, but the most (and justifiably) famous essay is the one written by the great, late Susan Sontag, who championed this film and who should be congratulated for her insight and dedication to this filmic masterpiece."
INCREDIBLE FILM OF STAGGERING ORIGINALITY
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 12/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This incredible film of staggering originality is as profound and visually imaginative as cinema can get. Not widely seen in this country, but perhaps even more meaningful today as we face ever new forms of an ancient evil that we are all to eager to embrace with a rationale of religion and/or politics.
Hitler was one of us."
Very unique...very interesting...very long
Mr. MDM | Alpharetta, GA | 10/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can be written about this film that hasn't already been written? I found the film captivating....mesmerizing. Though it is indeed very long (7+ hours) I would have no reservation watching it again in its entirety. The production of the film is unique...unlikely anything at least this reviewer has ever seen. I was drawn to the film because it was produced by Germans and I am really curious how Germans feel about the whole National Socialism movement, or at least how some of them may have viewed that era looking back from the 1970's. There are portions of the film that do indeed seem to drag on a little too long (the monologues by the young German intellectual, for example) but I've always had a fascination with the entire movement and in particular Hitler that I still enjoyed the film. How could it all really take place?, I ask myself. Anyhow, if you are interested in this period or German history I would highly recommend this film. If you have little to no interest in either of these two subjects you will probably have little to no patience for this film. I loved it, however."