Sunday, 2 February 2014
Mein Kampf (4 Stars)
This is a film version of a play written by George Tabori, a Hungarian Jew. He was born in Hungary in 1914 and moved to Germany in 1932. In 1935 he emigrated to England and was given British citizenship. From 1947 to 1971 he lived in America. He then returned to Germany, where he remained until his death in 2007.
Why am I going into such detail about the writer's life? I think that knowing his background might avert any criticism that might be brought against the play and film for racist reasons. Germany has a long history of satire, and for many years German Jews were the ones responsible for most of satirical theatre productions in Germany. The Jews have proven themselves capable of laughing at themselves more than any other people.
The play tells the story of Adolf Hitler when he arrives in Vienna to study art. He moves into a men's hostel, where he is befriended by an old Jew called Schlomo. Overcome by his poverty and failure, Hitler attempts suicide, but Schlomo saves his life and cares for him as a father would for his son. Schlomo is one of the few who recognises Hitler's talent as an artist and does his best to support him. When this doesn't succeed he recommends that Hitler enters politics. Schlomo is an entertainer who speaks on the street. Hitler sits in fascination and learns to imitate his gestures for his own speeches. The title of the film comes from Schlomo's autobiography, which he has entitled "Mein Kampf", i.e. "My Struggle". Hitler likes the name so much that he decides to use it for his own book. At first Hitler accepts Schlomo, despite his prejudices against the Jews, but he begins to hate him when he sees that the girl he loves, Gretchen, prefers Schlomo over him. But however much Hitler turns against Schlomo, the old Jew forgives him and continues to help him.
The film isn't a comedy, but it is strongly satirical. Only a Jewish author could have the audacity to suggest that it was a Jew who inspired Hitler's future career.