What to watch about Nuremberg? Which films best capture the essence of the Nuremberg Trials? Film critic Lydia Maslova has compiled a unique list especially for the “Nuremberg: Casus Pacis” project. Twice a week we will publish her recommendations - the best films of all time on the subject, from the famous and award-winning to the unremarkable, but important and meaningful.
Director: Sergei Yutkevich
Starring: Sergei Martinson, Nina Nikitina, and Faina Ranevskaya
Sergei Yutkevich’s anti-Hitler comedy sometimes resembles the sarcastic style of Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin films and is ruthless in its mockery of the mad Führer as an uneducated corporal and a totally comic figure, not worthy of being taken seriously or truly feared. The protagonist of this mockery is the hero of Czech satirist Jaroslav Hašek, the good soldier Schweik, who reminds Hitler: “I am the Schweik you burned the books about in the squares in Berlin”.
A separate cause for ridicule is the "total mobilisation of all men aged 15 to 75" ordered by the Führer, to which Schweik is also subjected. Throughout the film, different characters go over the various punishments Hitler deserves: “If I could get my hands on this Hitler, I would pour gasoline on all four sides of him and set him on fire. No, preferably on one side, so he burns longer”, and they constantly conclude that any punishment is insufficient for the mad Führer. “Tear this murderer apart, this executioner of children and women, who shed blood all over the Earth? No, that is not enough. Can't you, Schweik, as clever and resourceful as you are, come up with an execution that would pay him back in full?”
The depreciation of Hitler as a "freak of history" is still noteworthy even today as an act of stripping fascism of its demonic crown and the slightest element of aesthetic appeal.