Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Alternate title: The Rise And Fall Of Adolf Hitler: Black Fox
USA, 1962. Animated Productions, Image Productions, Le Vien International. Screenplay by Louis Clyde Stoumen, with story elements from Johann Wolfgang Goethe‘s story Reynard the Fox. Produced by Louis Clyde Stoumen. Music by Ezra Laderman. Film Editing by Kenn Collins, Richard Kaplan, Mark Wortreich. Academy Awards 1962.
This documentary about the progression of Adolf Hitler from failed art student to the most notorious villain of the modern era still packs a punch. Made in 1962, its rich assemblage of stock footage is powerful and its use of a Goethe folk tale to mirror the German dictator’s political career is quite haunting. Marlene Dietrich brilliantly narrates a combination of biography and political commentary, charting the corrupt character at the heart of Hitler’s politics (the child who didn’t want to study but blamed the perverse intellectualism of his teachers for his failure in school) that led to his leading a country to devastating war and genocide of the Jewish people of Europe, his villainy described in no uncertain terms. What makes this one essential viewing, however, is that it also makes sure to let us know that Hitler was a man who encountered few obstacles to get as far as he did: the European nations that failed to stop him from going to war despite the early warnings of Germany’s participation in Spain, the American corporations that continued to do business in Nazi Germany despite knowing their politics, all of these are pronounced with as harsh a judgment as the Black Fox at the centre of the tale. It’s a fascinating summation of the era as well as a reminder about the importance of responsibility and not just backward-looking blame.