Hitler, the Rise of Evil: a Critical Review

Hitler the rise of Evil is a successful miniseries from 2003, directed by Chrstian Duguay and starring Robert Caryle, that won two Emmy awards. The miniseries presents Adolf Hitler from a small boy until his rise to power in the German Riech in 1939. The miniseries was created for entertainment purposes; however, during its promotion makers marketed it as a very accurate adaptation of the period. Therefore the film is of interest to historians who wish to explore the subject and the films accuracy.

It is excellent historical nonfiction. It follows the most notorious tyrant in history. During a period of economic and political turmoil, left over from the reign of Wilhem II and then the ever failing leadership of the parties from the Weimar Republic, and the resulting growth of the Nazi party, from the Munich Putsch in 1923, to gaining the majority of seats in the 1932 elections, and Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933.

Historians look at this period in Germany as the prequel to the most destructive change to the world in history. Consequently, the Nazi era and WW2 remains one of the most popular eras to represent and document in education and popular entertainment. Other such productions include Dad’s Army, the famous English comedy television series, Pearl Harbor, the Hollywood blockbuster and the celebrated documentary, narrated by Laurence Olivier, The World at War.

The miniseries is directed to show a more human and realistic side to “the most evil man in history”. This challenged the stereotypical persona of the 19th century leader that until the miniseries had been the status quo for Hitler features including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and ‘Allo’ ‘Allo’, the British comedy show. The audience is the 21st century generations, whose limited experience of Hitler is from the class room and some entertainment productions.

For historians the miniseries is a source of evidence about the history of the people that the miniseries intended to entertain, by studying the film the historian can work out themes that may be present in the miniseries, but are directed to grasp the attention of the current audiences, in Hitler; the Rise of Evil, this could include the ideology of different politics and how they still effect today’s audience, and acts of terrorism, which are represented in the miniseries but still effect the lives of the modern viewers the miniseries is aimed at.

and it also challenges historians to present history to a modern popular audience. The miniseries gives historians facts on Germany, The life of Adolf Hitler, and the rise of the Nazi Party, as much of the miniseries content is true to history. For this reason the miniseries if of value to the historian. Hitler’s life is correctly portrayed in the series. Including Hitler’s attempts to become an artist, his time living on the streets of Vienna before WWI and his affiliations with the German workers party in its humble beginnings in a beer hall. , where Hitler joins the party in July 1921.

Later in the series, when the party wins the majority of seats in the Reich Stag, Hitler recalls “it’s a far cry from a few drunks in a beer hall” Hitler uses his early alliances to integrate his anti-Semitic values onto a devastated post-war Germany. His arrest in 1923 and the growing popularity of the party after the publication of Mein Kampf, continues to the fatal error of the President of Germany, Von Hindenburg. Hindenburg tries to naturalize Hitler by appeasing his desire for a seat high in the Reich. Which later leads to the Enabling act and Germany suppressing to Hitler. Hitler’s character aspects are well illustrated in the film.

In 1943, the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI (known then as the OSS) made a personality profile about Hitler. According to their results, the Hitler portrayed in the film is correct. He is shown as psychotic and unstable. The OSS report also included incest tendencies. Which is portrayed in the relationship he has with his niece in the series. Historians widely agree that Hitler has great skills as an orator, and it is one of the underlying reasons for his popularity in Germany. This is well shown in the series, from his first speech for the German Workers Party, to using his trial after the Munich Putsch as a propaganda tool.

The series is visually pleasing to an historian. The Majority of the characters are correct in appearance, due to costume use and casting. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Information was a very short man, and this is well cast using Justin Salinger to play the character. The appearance of Hitler, played by Robert Carlyle is very satisfying to the historian. His signature moustache and hair style are well presented. The setting for the series is correct to that of Germany in the era, including the architecture. Even though it looks rather ‘Hollywood’ clean.

The acclaimed Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw was hired as a consultant for the miniseries. However, he believed there to be so many historical faults he wished for his name to be removed from the production. Certain mistakes that could disturb a historian are how disturbed Hitler is portrayed. Historians widely disagree with the scene where he beats his pet dog. Hitler has never been connected with any animal violence, on the contrary, The Third Reich were one of the first leaderships to introduce animal protection laws on April 23rd 1933 they passed the first animal protection laws.

Hitler’s mother suffered from breast cancer, her doctor, a Jewish who was assimilated into Austrian society, is portrayed as a Hasidic Jew in the miniseries, a valid mistake. There are several instances of incest portrayed in the miniseries. There is the relationship between Hitler’s mother and father. They are related as uncle and niece, throughout their scenes, Klara Hitler greets her husband as ‘uncle’ which is historically correct. Hitler’s relationship with his own niece, Gali Raubal.

Is portrayed to agree with the ideas of many historians, including Fischer, and Bergen, he is infatuated with her, with tendencies leading to incest. Many historians believe they had a “most series love affair”. The value of the miniseries to the historian lies in its capability to portray the history of the target audience more than the era it represents. The film shows the notorious Hitler in a more physiological perspective than any film maker has before. The miniseries deliberately portrays Hitler in a more humane perspective, against the monster stereotypical presentation.

Hitler is shown to gradually gain power in Germany; his growth in power is not shown without difficulties. At each one of these complications he is shown to lash out in several means, sometimes aggressively, such as when he learns Germany has lost WWI, sometimes passively, for instance when he goes on hunger strike in prison. This can be interpreted to reflect the 21st century political environment and its leading politicians. The miniseries was created in 2003, when the USA was in the mist of the ‘war on terror’ after the bombings on September 11th 2001.

Ed Gernon was the executive Producer for the miniseries, he was fired by the production company for openly comparing the climate of fear that led to the rise of the Nazi’s to the war on terrorism. His judgment can be distinguished throughout the miniseries. The scenes of violence in the miniseries can be seen as reflecting those we see on news programs today about the Middle East. The Gulf war was still fresh in people’s memory when the series was released and many NATO nations had invaded Iraq. The Reichstag fire is portrayed vividly in the miniseries; this was an act of terrorism.

Which being shown in miniseries tells us something about the climate to terrorism in 2003, acts of political terrorism were frequently on news programs the time, like the Reichstag fire, they included the attack on the Dutch Embassy’s in several Middle Eastern countries after a disagreement on free press. The scene where a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm II is being pulled down is extremely similar to the scenes witnessed on April 9th 2003, when Sadam Hussians statue fell. Although that was a year after the release of the miniseries, it shows a generic mood.

In the miniseries, Hitler rids himself of his enemies by putting them in prison with no trial and no explanation. This is similar to the USA attitude to terrorists who they imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay in 2002. These similarities conjour the idea to the historian that the political climate in which the target audience lived, was portrayed through the miniseries. In a modern world we seem to be fascinated with labeling people with mental incapability’s. By watching Hitler, The Rise of Evil. The viewer would suspect that Hitler suffers from some sort of psychotic condition, perhaps bipolar.

This tells the historian more about the viewing generation. As the idea of mental illness was becoming more recognized and accepted at the time and the miniseries supports the idea. Chrstian Duguay directs the four hour, two piece miniseries that follows Adolf Hitler’s life in the years prior to WW2. The miniseries focuses on Germany, as a politically unstable, economically unhinged and embittered state, after WW1 and the fall of Kaiser Wilhelm, and Adolf Hitler’s role within that Germany. It also touches upon Hitler’s life prior to WW1.

The miniseries is a “drama tracing the young, developing mind of a burgeoning madman, following Hitler through his formative years. ” The film was by Canadian TV, produced by Alliance Atlantis. It premiered in May 2003 in both Canada and the USA. A large amount of what is covered in the production should be recognizable to history buffs, much of what we learn is through other characters observations, journalist Fritz Gerlich being one character that does so, he comments on Hitler: “He’s not human. He simply studies others to become human.

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