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interview Hans-Jurgen Syberberg OUR HITLER as visual politics Hans-Jrgen Syberberg is a German film-maker whose controversial Our Hitler-A Film From Germany is a seven-hour, twenty-two chapter film cycle divided into four parts. Our Hitler is the third part of a trilogy that includes Ludwig-Requiem for a Virgin King (1972) and Karl May (1974). This interview was conducted by Beatriz Schiller in January 1980. Ms. Schiller is the New York correspondent for Journal do Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. The interview was edited for publication by Rod Ott. Due to the fact that many who read this interview will not have the opportunity to see Our Hitler, we are reprinting below the program notes which give some indication of the film's radical visual settings-Editors. HITLER, A FILM FROM GERMANY THE GRAIL In the beginning .. , the image of Ludwig's paradise from the Residence in Munich. A narrator tells of the thirty heirs who have legal title to Hitler, and explains that all the figures of the film are fictional, freely invented, all similarities with persons living or dead coincidental. We are therefore free to construct our own world in film. A little girl dressed in black, a figure recurring in the four parts of the film, is playing with dolls, puppets of Ludwig and of Hitler hanging from a gallows. She rises and wanders off into the distance with a toy dog that bears the face of Hitler. Against a Caligari projection 50 she lays the toy Hitler in a cradle. The devil appears, bends over the cradle and turns into a black eagle. A circus director announces the greatest show on earth, the rehearsal of the end of the world. In a monologue in the Black Maria, (Edison's first film studio and symbol of the world of our inner projections), the puppet of Ludwig I asks, "where would we be without this guilt?"; from Jesus to Hitler, the Jews. The master of ceremonies continues that the performance must be played to the very end. "And since we no longer have a Hitler to exhibit... everyone must play himself, his own Hitler, at home, in front of a mirror, for money..." One by one all the actors come on, as in circus, in various roles, as audience, as Hitler; Hitler as painter, as Nero, Frankenstein , Chaplin. The narrator describes how his real theme is the Hitler in us all, those who elected him, sacrificed everything under him. Everyone can play a part; the world as circus and fairground; a world theatre that Hitler succeeded in shaping to his own design. The monologue from Fritz Lang's M is declaimed, in which the murderer protests his inability to act differentlyThe scene changes to an ante-chamber to hell. From coffins the personages of the Nazi era awake, puppets, manipulated by the variousactors of the film, Goebbels, Goering, Himmler, Speer, who address the audience with the interpretations of their time. A devil explains that Hitler, an evil too great for hell, is condemned to seek a refuge on earth,-but in what form? The young girl reappears, listens to the puppets, and takes up the Ludwig from his coffin, carrying him off into hell. The narrator tells of the hell about us, of the Nazi judges and lawyers, of Hitler's democratic election to power, and, above all, of the cultural hell we live in. From documentary recordings intone the voices of people dedicating books to the flames in the book-burnings of the Third Reich; scenes alluding to the younger and older generations of German filmmakers are shown, the plastic face of a sex doll. A blackboard in the hell about us demonstrates the corruption of language, in east and west; the heirs of Hitler in our modern cultural life. And the narrator asks where it all began, where it will all end, the burning of books, the destruction of films, McCarthyism, Hollywood, the fellowtravellers , and he describes the battle for Hitler in the form of books, films, newspapers , the endless exploitation of Hitler for profit. On a table lies the charred body of Goebbels. At the end the little girl sits...


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