Dani Levy’s Blistering Satire
Opens August 14, 2009 at New York’s Quad Cinema
***Director Dani Levy is Available for Phone or Email interviews***
The bastard love child of Charlie Chaplin's classic film The Great Dictator and Mel Brook's The Producers, Dani Levy's MY FÜHRER is the most wildly provocative film ever made in Germany. This blistering satire dares to present a subjective, fictitious interpretation of one of the most heinous episodes of human history – Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. And the provocateur behind it, Dani Levy, again proves his ability to confront delicate, sacred-cow themes with his own quietly outrageous brand of subversive humor.
MY FÜHRER is set in December, 1944. Berlin lies in ruins and the war is as good as lost. Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) knows that the country needs a boost so he proposes that the Führer (Helge Schneider) broadcast a flamingly aggressive New Year’s day speech to once again mobilize the masses for the war. The weak point: Adolf Hitler is, at present, only a shadow of his former self; demoralized and depressed, he hides in his office and avoids contact with the public.
The only man who can help is the Führer’s former acting teacher, Adolf Grünbaum (played by The Lives of Others star Ulrich Mühe, in his last major role before his unexpected death). A Jew, Grünbaum had given Hitler acting lessons at the beginning of his political career. Goebbels spirits the teacher and his family out of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and sets them up in the Reich Chancellery, with only five days for the Führer to return to top form.
During the day Grünbaum employs everything from relaxation exercies to psychotherapy in his work with the Führer, while in the evening he’s forced to justify his job to his family, who finds it difficult to accept that he’s not using this opportunity to kill the man.
While Goebbels observes them through a two-way mirror, Grünbaum and the Führer provoke one another to the limit of violence and humiliation. At one point Grünbaum takes Hitler back to his difficult childhood, and the Führer’s traumatic memories bring him to tears. This seesaw effect in the balance of power between the “great” Führer and the “inconsequential” Jew provides an emotional roller-coaster ride for both men.
The momentous day of the Führer’s speech finally arrives, but an unnerved Hitler loses his voice and forces Grünbaum to hide under the stage and deliver the fiery speech to the masses while the Führer lip syncs and gestures wildly from the platform above. Soon, though, Grünbaum begins deviating from the written and practiced speech and presents an utterly different interpretation of Germany’s situation, which leaves the assembled masses visibly astonished.
With analytical severity and a refreshing lack of respect, Levy penetrates to the root of the Hitler phenomena; by exposing the Nazi rulers to ridicule, he dislodges them from the pedestal of historically factual documentation. Levy didn’t want to give them the “honor” of a realistic image. For him, the fantasy comes closer to the truth.
Dani Levy was born in Basel in 1957 and has lived in Berlin since 1980. He made his debut as a director in 1986 with Same to You. In 1994, Levy joined up with Stefan Arndt, Wolfgang Becker and Tom Tykwer to found the production company X Filme Creative Pool. Stille Nacht, which was X Filme’s first project, ran in the International Competition at the Berlin Film Festival. In 1997, Levy directed the thriller Meschugge, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and won both the Bavarian Film Prize and the prize for Best Cinematography in 1999. For his 2005 comedy Go for Zucker, Levy was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2005 German Film Prize in the categories Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Film, as well as the Ernst-Lubitsch-Prize.
2007, 89 minutes, color, 35mm, German w/English subtitles
Written & Directed by Dani Levy
Produced by Stefan Arndt
Production Manager: Marcos Kantis
Director of Photography: Carl F. Koschnick
Production Design: Christian Eisele
Original Music: Niki Reiser
Cast: Helge Schneider (Adolf Hitler); Ulrich Mühe (Professor Adolf Grünbaum); Sylvester Groth (Dr. Joseph Goebbels); Adriana Altaras (Elsa Grünbaum); Stefan Kurt (Albert Speer); Ulrich Noethen (Heinrich Himmler); Lambert Hamel (Lieutenant-General Rattenhuber); Udo Kroschwald (Martin Bormann)
“A stellar cast, excellent production values and a neat storyline with a cheeky twist.” –VARIETY
“An off-beat, absurdist fantasy…brings the abstract violence of war down to a personal level…a provocative, dissonant film that waltzes along to its own absurdist tempo.” –THE FRESNO BEE
“An excellent performance by actor Mühe, who constructs a multi-faceted melancholic Hitler. Do not enter the theatre expecting easy laughs; this is a comedy in a different vein… Taking its cues from The Fall with Bruno Ganz, it requires a good dose of your attention, but will ultimately reward your efforts.”
“The film (has) an edge and integrity that would have been absent if Levy had decided on a single mood… It's intended to be funny but there's distance in the laughter, reminding us of the deep darkness enveloping the whole story like an imperceptible but poisonous gas.” –THE JAPAN TIMES
“Full of ironic jokes, subliminal messages… Very wise and sensitive… A film to be seen both for its historical particularities and for the interpretations of its three main actors, whose performances are worth the price of the ticket alone.” –ICINE.IT (ITALY)
More information, including the press kit, photos, reviews and additional playdates available at www.firstrunfeatures.com