German film producer: 'Hitler was also charming'

14th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 September 2004 , MUNICH - Bernd Eichinger, producer of a controversial film about Adolf Hitler due to be released this week, said the movie had to strike a balance in its portrayal by showing a human side of Nazi dictator. In an interview with the German edition of Playboy magazine, Eichinger discussed the film "Der Untergang - Hitler Und Das Ende Des Dritten Reiches" (Downfall - Hitler And The End Of The Third Reich) which covers Hitler's final 12 days in a Berlin bunker before the Nazi leader committe

 16 September 2004

MUNICH - Bernd Eichinger, producer of a controversial film about Adolf Hitler due to be released this week, said the movie had to strike a balance in its portrayal by showing a human side of Nazi dictator.

In an interview with the German edition of Playboy magazine, Eichinger discussed the film "Der Untergang - Hitler Und Das Ende Des Dritten Reiches" (Downfall - Hitler And The End Of The Third Reich) which covers Hitler's final 12 days in a Berlin bunker before the Nazi leader committed suicide.

The film producer said he was aware that in showing a human side of Hitler the movie was doing a delicate balancing act. But this was necessary because any other portrayal of Hitler would have been a distortion of historical facts.

"Hitler was also charming," Eichinger said, while hastening to add that for him personally, the Nazi dictator was "the biggest barbarian" who sought to establish barbarism under his rule.

The Playboy interview was published days before the German public gets its first chance to see the controversial which opens in cinemas across the country on Thursday.

Production company Constantin Film AG in Munich said 400 copies of the film had gone out to all the large German cities, which compares with 900 copies for blockbuster US films.

Constantin also said that there was great demand on the European market for the film, based on a book of the same title by prominent historian Joachim Fest.

The EUR 13.5 million production contrasts the battle for Berlin in the waning days of World War II and the final 12 days, 20 April to 2 May, in the Nazi dictator's bunker beneath the Reichs chancellory building.

The film was directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, with a top acting cast, including Bruno Ganz as Hitler and Juliane Koehler as Eva Braun.

The chillingly frank screen portrayal of Hitler's final hours has already spawned a national debate over whether Germans are prepared to view the Nazi dictator as a tragic human being rather than a monster.

In a country where display of Nazi emblems is banned, Germans are long accustomed to being reminded by television and the movies that Hitler was the 20th Century's ultimate war criminal.

And in a country where the spectre of neo-Nazism is ever-present, any less than damning portrayal of Hitler in books, on TV or in movies is suspected of playing to radical right-wing sentiments.

Eichinger, the country's best-known producer, also commented on the question of German guilt in the wake of the Nazi crimes in Europe and the Holocaust, under what the Germans call "Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung" - coming to terms with the past.

He told Playboy he rejects the notion of collective guilt of the Germans.

Nor had he been raised to feel guilty for acts which he himself had not committed, said Eichinger, who was born in April, 1949.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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