MAX (15) 108min COO.

Menno Meyjes‘ directorial debut, Max, caused controversy in the US when it was revealed that the film would portray Adolf Hitler as a human being. Horrified, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Defence League publicly denounced the film, sight unseen. Their fear was that the film would glamourise the Nazi leader and trivialise his crimes.

It is interesting how powerful a taboo the idea of humanising Hitler is still. But can we really learn from history if we see him simply as some demonic creature beyond our understanding? While that might help us to sleep at night, it surely misses the point: Hitler was a man whose actions were rooted in human failings.

Max makes the point powerfully. It portrays Hitler (Noah Taylor) not as the Fijhrer but as a 30- year-old, poverty-stricken veteran of World War I who longs to become an artist. Sensing something in him, Max Rothman (John Cusack), a Jewish art dealer, encourages him to dig deeper in order to find his true voice.

At the same time Captain Mayr (Ulrich The root of all (fascist) evil Thomsen), an army propaganda officer, tries to steer him towards a career in politics. Hitler lives ideas and prejudices which informed his thinking jealous. and manipulative little weasel, whose the bohemian life until he hits upon the formula were already present in the wider culture before dark eyes burn with hatred and self-pity. Meyjes' that Art + Politics = Power, a succinct summation he came to power. His ideas are plucked from screenplay further extends the buffer between of Walter Benjamin's assertion that Fascism is around him and then regurgitated, half digested the character and the audience by constantly the ‘aestheticising of politics’. and half understood. foreshadowing (in an ironic, blackly comic way)

Although not entirely successful in dramatic The struggle within post-WW1 Germany the horrors to come. ‘Hitler is obsessed with terms, Max provides an intellectually bracing between the forces of progress and blood,‘ says Max at one point. look at the roots of Hitler's wickedness. Crucially, conservatism are expressed through the No doubt there will still be people who believe he chooses to embrace evil rather than being conversations that Max and Hitler have Max is a disgrace. However, at a time when anti- born that way, and the film chillingly charts his throughout the film about art and its function. Semitism is once again on the rise in Europe and transformation into something like the genocidal Where the more imaginative and progressive America, the film provides a salutary reminder of demagogue of history. Max champions modern abstract art, the the all-too-human roots of evil.

By carefully locating him within his specific reactionary Hitler is a literal-minded classicist. (Stephen Applebaum) historical context, Meyjes shows us that the Taylor’s Hitler is a neurotic, self-loathing, I .- ‘I' ~ ' .1

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