Dawn of Evil: Reich Rise DVD

Friday, 25 February 2011 12:06

No biographical film of Adolf Hitler is ever likely to be a sympathetic portrayal of the man. The subject carries too much historical baggage. The man's exploits are too well known, even if they are not always clearly understood. As with other historical figures who attract such ire, the most we can hope for is a balanced look at the forces and circumstances that shaped Hitler.

Most existing film depictions focus either on his rise to power, from leader of the Nazi party to Chancellor, or his erratic decline as the tide of war turned against him. “Dawn of Evil – Rise of the Reich” concerns itself with the early years of Hitler's life, centring on his failed attempt at gaining entry to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Tom Schilling portrays the young Hitler, initially as somewhat naïve and argumentative, but already spouting anti-Semitic dialogue.

Dawn of Evil – Rise of the Reich on DVDThis in itself isn't particularly unusual, as anti-Semitic sentiment was rife among the more right-wing groups in Germany at the time. What is unusual is that Hitler is befriended by a middle-aged Jew named Shlomo Hertzl, who shows the younger man nothing but kindness, despite constant provocation.

Hitler's growing anger toward Hertzl revolves around the older man's relationship with a Tyrolean woman called Gretchen, and after he is devastated by his rejection from the Vienna Academy he fixates on Shlomo, as both a Jew and the source of all his humiliation. When Hitler falls in with a group of Nationalists, the situation begins to unravel.

I can only assume that this film is allegorical. If it is meant to be accepted as seen then it fails to provide any real historical detail. Instead it chooses to use a series of unlikely vignettes, such as Shlomo trimming Hitler's moustache into its recognised shape, or the waffle-texture on a bedspread leaving a swastika-like imprint on Hitler's cheek, to build a picture of the emerging dictator. But at best it's an out-of-focus picture that still leaves the most important questions unanswered.

There is also a bizarre sub-plot where the post mistress appears to be the Grim Reaper, but that could be my misreading the subtitles that sometimes pass at quite a rate, due to the frantic pace of portions of dialogue.

For all its faults the film does look good and conveys the period quite well. The music is lightly applied throughout, except in a few instances where it plays over brief scenes of action and carries the film along.

“Dawn of Evil” looks good on paper, but unfortunately seems to be such a heavily fictionalised, melodramatic account of events, that it greatly reduces any lasting impact the film may have intended.

“Dawn of Evil – Rise of the Reich” is released on 28 February 2011 by Revolver Entertainment. It has a running time of 105 minutes approx, a ‘15’ certificate, and a RRP of £12.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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