“As he walked through the Brandenburg Gate, looking a little stunned and grubby, scores of the tourists gathered there with selfie sticks and phones to capture Berlin’s most famous landmark quickly turned their attention to him.
Suddenly Adolf Hitler was surrounded by everyone from German teenagers to giggling Japanese holidaymakers. But the bodyguards accompanying him need not have worried. Some onlookers put their arms around him as they posed for selfies, others pouted and pretended to kiss him on the cheek.
“It was incredible, I was suddenly the attraction, like a popstar,” said Oliver Masucci, the latest actor to play Hitler for the big screen, in the film adaptation of Timur Vermes’s 2012 bestselling fictional satire Er ist Wieder Da (Look Who’s Back).
“People clustered around me. One told me she loved me, and asked me to hug her. One, to my relief, started hitting me. There was also a black woman who said I scared her,” Masucci added, recalling the making of one of the film’s opening scenes last autumn.
On general release across Germany on Thursday, Look Who’s Back offers a sharp departure from a string of previous Hitler depictions, starting with Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 hit The Great Dictator and through to the 2004 German-made Downfall, because it captures the reactions of present-day Germans towards him – or rather towards a man who bears a striking resemblance to the figure who once terrorised Europe – and weaves them into the fictional scenes in the film.
Look Who’s Back imagines that, 70 years since his demise, Hitler awakes from a coma on the site of his former bunker, now a residential area of Berlin, to find himself in the present – a Germany at peace, with Angela Merkel at the helm and a society so multicultural he does not recognise it. He is taken to be an impersonator or a method actor of the highest calibre, who subsequently makes a successful television career for himself, using that as a springboard to enter politics…”