starring John Cussack, Noah Taylor, Molly Parker, Ulrich Thomsen, David Horovitch, Janet Suzman, Peter Capaldi,
Kevin McKidd and Leelee Sobieski
written and directed by Menno Meyjes
When I first found this DVD in my local rental shop and then rented it, I thought it was another film about the work of a famous artist - named Max somebody - like the others in the list that I described above. But it wasn’t. Instead, set in 1918 Munich, just at the end of the First World War, it is a story about art deal Max Rothman and his encounter with a 30-year-old Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor). Bitter by how the war ended, still in the army but with no home, family or job to return to after discharge, Hitler is still trying to be an acclaimed artist. He doesn’t succeed, of course. Most art historians dismiss Hitler’s talent as minor. By way of compensation, Hitler gravitates into extreme politics. The National Socialist German Workers Party was not Hitler’s child, but he quickly took it over once the two found each other. I’m not sure of the accuracy of the film’s story. I think it’s timing of Hitler’s introduction to politics is premature. But I could be wrong.
It is ironic that at the same time Hitler is shown to be developing his virulent anti-Semitism, he is hanging around with the Jewish art dealer, Max Rothman. In the morning he is screaming a speech in a beer hall about how Jews led Germany to destruction, and rants about Jewish blood purity, and in the afternoon he is riding on the back of Max Rothman’s bicycle through the park, talking about art.
The unspoken suggestion in the film is that Hitler’s burning resentment over Rothman’s failure to meet him in a coffee shop to discuss a show of his sketches (he didn’t show because he was beaten to death and left in the snow by a gang of soldiers) was the straw that broke the camels back and firmly pushed him into the political stream, leaving us to wonder what might have been?