Hitler – The Rise of Evil (2003) Hitler´s Childhood, Youth and Early Years

The only thing necessary

for evil to flourish

is for good men

to do nothing.  (Edmund Burke)

Hitler – The Rise of Evil follows Hitler´s early years. First his childhood with an abusive father, then the pursuit of his dream to become a great artist which lack of talent prevented. His participation in WWI,  his rise through the ranks of the German Worker´s Party, his imprisonment that gave him time to write Mein Kampf. Even though this movie ends around the year 1934 with Hitler becoming Reich´s President, I think it is fair to include it on a war movie blog as it permits to see what happened prior to WWII and how the Jews were persecuted long before the war

The Scottish actor Robert Carlyle gives a stunning performance starring as Hitler. The madness of Hitler is creepy and palpable. However exactly this has been criticized. When you watch this movie you can´t help thinking all the time: how did he get away with it? He was so obviously deranged, mad and psychologically disturbed that no one should have been tempted to follow him. I think that in showing Hitler exactly like this, this movie contributes to shed another light on him. Sure, we know he was sick but still we tend to see him as a deranged dictator. I would say it is high time to look at him as some sort of head of a sect. He should be paralleled with people like Charles Manson and Jim Jones. The same psychological dynamics that are at work in people who follow cult leaders were also present in many Germans at the time.

The movie also manages to show how many people just didn´t react or looked the other way. There is only one journalist (played by Matthew Modine) who points out how dangerous Hitler is. The Rise of Evil has a close look at Hitler´s relationship with women (his niece and Eva Braun) where his full-blown madness is maybe as evident as in his hatred of the Jews. A great part of the movie focuses on the American/German couple Hanfstaengel. Their importance seems not historically accurate and it might very well be that their role had been extended for the sake of US viewers. I thought it interesting to see how Helene Hanfstaengel (Julianna Margulies) who was against Hitler at the beginning, all of a sudden changed her mind and became one of his most fervent supporters. Many women fell for him, as odd as this may seem. The role played by Ernst Röhm (Peter Stormare) is also explored with great detail as is the person of Hindenburg (Peter O’ Toole)

Nobody should compare this film to Der Untergang aka The Downfall as hardly any movie is as good as that but it is thought-provoking, interesting and, as already said, Carlyle is amazingly good.

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4 thoughts on “Hitler – The Rise of Evil (2003) Hitler´s Childhood, Youth and Early Years

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    Why have I not heard of this movie? It has a strong cast and an interesting subject. It was released in 2003 and yet there are zero reviews on Rotten Tomatoes! Certainly sounds like something I would like to see. I am a little concerned with your review. I have read biographies of Hitler and did not get the impression that he was deranged when young. Ruthless, yes, but insane? I do not even think most historians would describe him as creepy. I did not find that people followed him in spite of him being creepy. I’m thinking specifically of men like Albert Speer. I wonder if the film overexaggerates his personality.

    • I think this is precisely what the German reviewers criticized saying that it was far less obvious. I am sure they did exaggerate. I think the signs where there though and with hindsight we can exaggerate them. The movie has two parts. The first one stops when he is in prison. Both parts are 1.5 hr long. I saw the fisr one a while back. He starts to give the impression of being deranged way after WWI. I still think you can parallel his personality with cult leaders or serial killers even. I have been reading The Sisters The Saga of the Mitford Family for a while now (astonishing, all 6 gils where famous for one ting or another). Diana was married to the British Facist leader Sir Oswald Mosley and Unity was close friends with Hitler. She describes a charming man. She is totally under his spell.
      I hope I mentioned it was made for TV? Maybe a reason why you did not hear anything.

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