In last week’s post I mentioned Syberberg’s Hitler, a film from Germany as an example of political art reaching beyond the confines of both politics and art. I’m not sure if it came across like that, but I’m sure that’s what I meant. At least, that’s what I mean now. And that’s all that matters.
Since then I’ve spent three evenings watching the first three parts of the film. The last part I’m gonna watch tonight. But before I do so I wanna put down some thoughts on what it’s been like so far. Not that I’m expecting a surprise ending – I’ve been through the whole thing a couple of times before – but just to keep my thoughts untainted by the entirety of the work, and instead focus on some of the particulars.
At the end of Part III – after some five hours of patiently trying to map out the psychology of Hitler and his bedfellows – the grand old Führer has finally had it. Come alive as a puppet at the hand of a ventriloquist he takes on the screen, and does a monologue that not even the puppeteer knows how to answer.
Instead of defending his own stance Hitler praises his posterity for fulfilling his own visions of the future. ”Ich grüse die Amerikanen!” he starts out, and then lists all the wonders they and others have performed to his memory. How the Pope received Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in audience, how Palestinian freedom fighter Yassir Arafat carried a gun to the UN building, and how 110 out of 153 member states of the UN violated human rights in 1977 when the film was made.
In the end Hitler also praises the mass of Western populations for not doing anything about their abusive governments and their lack of concern for other countries and people. ”Thor Heyerdahl,” he states, ”couldn’t wash his clothes for 43 out of 56 days on his Kon-Tiki raft – is this what you wanna hold up against my culture?” To Hitler the case is clear. Today’s way of propaganda and natural selection by capitalism is a direct continuation of the Third Reich he imagined for himself when he was democratically voted Chancellor of Germany in 1933.
I’m not really interested in the credibility of such a statement. But I’m interested in the statement as such. Are we really working away from or towards the view of the world as held by Hitler? Or less dramatically put, do we have any idea where we – we as a society and as a culture – are headed, and do we at all spend time thinking about it?
In Denmark the equivalent of Hitler’s NSDAP – or more plainly stated: the Nazi Party – is a young fast-growing party known as the Danish People’s Party. They share characteristics with many other popular right-wing parties throughout Europe, and have often been known to substitute Muslims for Jews in search of a scapegoat and a bogey for their supporters to believe in. And this with such success that they’re presently in parliament, and holds the balance of power in many important governmental issues.
I wonder whether the people who vote for the Danish People’s Party would be horrified or flattered if somehow forced to watch the monologues of Syberberg’s Hitler. Most probably they wouldn’t care because they wouldn’t be able to see the connection. That’s my prejudice anyway. And I would love to be proved wrong.
So if you know anybody dating right-wing populism, and who might be up for some six-seven hours of intense enigmatic cinema, send them this link and my email address email@example.com. I would love to hear their reply. Now, at least, I have given out the option.