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UNSER NAZI

Germany / France, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Robert Kramer

Ostensibly a documentary about the making of Thomas Harlan's. Wundkanal: Execution for Four Voices - a film about the kidnapping of Alfred Filbert, Deputy Head of the Nazi Secret Service - Unser Nazi is a powerful, magnificently accomplished piece of cinema. Harlan's project began as a fiction film and was scheduled to use several actors playing Nazi war criminals being brought to an ad hoc trial by their kidnappers. Veidt Harlan, Thomas' father, was the official filmmaker of the Third Reich and Thomas' extensive research was based on access to private files and direct acquaintances with the hierarchy surrounding Hitler. His rebellion against his father (who died "unrepentant" in Capri) drove him to burn down cinemas where his father's films were playing and to engage in more obscure subversive activities. He saw the film as therapeutic, in so far as it could help people to confront what he sees as the Nazi within all of us. He had no intention of making a personal film where the complex and painful relation with his father was "sublimated" by an 80 year old man still convinced that he is the victim of insufficient recognition for the loyalty he observed in executing his functions.

After many vicissitudes and delays, the plan to use actors folded and Harlan decided to go ahead with Filbert, who, surprisingly agreed to be directly involved for a fee of 200,000 francs. Kramer was invited to make a video of it in complete freedom. The result is a harrowing experience in which all the expectations of the people involved are minutely observed and analysed, including Kramer's own. Filbert is violently attacked in word and deed but remains disturbingly "solid": Harlan is an executioner with frightening determination. Everyone else, including cameraman Henri Alekan, slowly crack and become deeply involved formally as well as in content. Unser Nazi is truly unique.

See also...

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COUP DE GRÂCE

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CIRCLE OF DECEIT

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