Monday, October 09, 2006

'Der Untergang'

We rented a great movie this weekend: Der Untergang ("Downfall") - the story of Hitler's last days in the Bunker, mostly as seen through the eyes of his last secretary, Traudl Junge. Acting was great, especially Bruno Ganz - I think he must be the best Hitler yet. I've read criticism that he doesn't LOOK must like Hitler, but while I was watching, he WAS that character, and no memories of what the real man had looked like intruded, so I'd say that's a successful portrayal. And he was the one actor in that movie I somehow couldn't believe was reading lines - he was so perfectly in character, I believed those words were just coming spontaneously.

One odd thing that happened while we were watching it was that Thomas came into the room during one of Hitler's terrific rages - I think it might have been when he'd learned about Himmler's betrayal. Thomas started laughing as Hitler started shouting, and the longer it went on and the wilder it got, the harder and harder he laughed. Of course, it was all in German, so it made absolutely no sense to him, but maybe there's something about the innocence of children that sees through to the truth of things on some level. Rage IS ridiculous in a lot of ways; Dean said that in real life, everyone feared Hitler's rages and would try to get out of the room if possible, but they were adults, and none of them was innocent like Thomas. I said that it was a good thing we don't own a videotape of this movie, because Thomas has a tendency to rewind and replay favorite bits of scenes over and over at top volume. And while our neighbours are kind and forbearing, I think that hearing the unmistakeable voice of Adolph Hitler screaming and ranting in German for a half hour at a time would be enough to exhaust anyone's patience.

I wondered what would have happened if we'd been living in Nazi Germany, and Thomas had a reaction like that to hearing Hitler speak - we'd probably all have been arrested. Dean reminded me that very few people ever saw Hitler like that - he didn't lose control like that in public - but I've seen his speeches, and they often have that emotionally over-the-top characteristic that would have left Thomas laughing, too.

Of course, there's the whole thing about having handicapped children that would have been weighing us down, too. I suppose even today, Jews think about what they would have done if THEY'D been alive in Germany at that time, and what would have happened to them. I think that too, whenever I recall the euthanasia program of the Nazis. And when I read about Peter Singer,, it feels as if those days are coming back, as it must do to Jews who have seen anti-Semitism return, along with the demands for their extinction.

5 Comments:

Blogger Deborah said...

You are incredibly well read. I fear I have squandered away my braincells shamelessly on books about raising chickens and bees. I confess the "highest" reading I do at this time involves my son's 4th grade homeschool curriculum. Of course the Bible is a classic and I do manage to read it so I am not a complete reprobate - no matter how inadequate I feel when visiting your blog, lol.

12:02 am  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Ah, no, anyone who can raise their own food has not been wasting their time! I love your chickens, especially the dozy blonde one that's just sort of stupidly staring into space while the energetic dark ones are eating all the food. We're a 'Chicken Run' family, with the video being played many, many times, so if we had chickens, I'm sure Thomas would be busy trying to help them escape to some island paradise somewhere.

11:30 pm  
Blogger electrohermit said...

Hmm. Very interesting. You're observation about Thomas laughing at the rage is very profound. It connects with two completely seperate concepts recent to me. The first is the humor is the highest form of consciousness in the Universe. Secondly that a child's innocence and our ability to observe and reflect on this innocence is a gauge of our being. We tend to get heavy in life, over time.

12:36 am  
Blogger electrohermit said...

Hmm. Very interesting. You're observation about Thomas laughing at the rage is very profound. It connects with two completely seperate concepts recent to me. The first is the humor is the highest form of consciousness in the Universe. Secondly that a child's innocence and our ability to observe and reflect on this innocence is a gauge of our being. We tend to get heavy in life, over time.

12:37 am  
Blogger electrohermit said...

sorry about the double post!! gaww

12:38 am  

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