New Nazi Comedy Hits German Cinema Screens | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 11.10.2008
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New Nazi Comedy Hits German Cinema Screens

A World War II comedy that hit cinema screens this week is the latest German movie to tackle what has long been an off-limits subject: the Third Reich.

The actors pose against a film poster for U-900

Is parody the right genre for movies about World War Two?

The plot of Sven Unterwaldt's comedy "U-900" involves a German forced to flee Hitler's Germany after being caught in flagrante with a Nazi bigwig's daughter, whose life he later manages to save by hijacking a submarine.

It premiered across Germany this week as the latest in the recent series of movies that take a comic approach to the Holocaust.

Unimaginable for decades, German film makers have become increasingly confident about treating World War II as a bit of a farce.


Hitler, played by Helge Schneider, in the bath

Brilliant comedy -- or just bad tase?

That's not to say the results are uncontroversial. When Jewish director Dani Levy made the slapstick comedy "My Fuehrer -- The Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler" and depicted Hitler as a bumbling fool who likes to play with a toy battleship in the bath, it was panned by critics, even though it did well at the box office.

The very first German-made film comedy about the Nazis aired on public television network ARD in 2002.

In "Goebbels and Geduldig," the Nazi propaganda minister and a good-humoured Jewish lookalike swap places in 1944. Allegedly, the script had to be re-written dozens of times by nervous TV executives.

But these days, Hitler and the Nazis are fair game. And Germany doesn't seem to mind others sending up the Third Reich either.

Right now, US director and king of trash Quentin Tarantino is in Berlin to shoot "Inglorious Bastards," starring Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger. According to early reports, the movie is about a group of Jewish soldiers in the US Army sent on a nearly suicidal mission in France during World War II.

It has already come in for criticism due to what is seen by many as a somewhat frivolous attitude towards the horrors of the Second World War.

The production team already raised eyebrows in Berlin in recent weeks when it advertised for extras with "Aryan" looks and, ideally, amputed limbs.

Times have changed

A scene from das Boot

The new movie is a send-up of "das Boot"

Star of "U-900," Atze Schroeder is one of Germany's most popular stand-up comedians. He said he was fully aware of the country's sensitivies, but that times have changed.

"Making Nazis look foolish -- that's something honorable for a comedian in this day and age," Schroeder told German magazine TV Spielfilm. "It's not a history lesson but rather it's just a comedy about a guy who manages to get himself out of just about every possible jam you could imagine."

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