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64 of 70 found the following review helpful:
only loosely based on fact Aug 18, 2010
Was Hitler crazy? Yes. Was he evil? How could he not be? But one thing we know is that part of the reason he rose to power was that he was also extremely charismatic and charming. to the point of inspiring devotion in his followers.
But the Hitler character in this portrayal seems rather to be auditioning for a lead in the Omen. So bat s*** crazy that no sane person could follow him for five minutes. So evil that no one would want to stay in the same room with him for five seconds. And that anyone in his company was there because they were trapped, not because they were there willingly. But that's not what his reputation at the time he rose to power said of him.
I guess I am sort of amazed that a person who caused the death of fifty million people and brought the world to ruin wasn't considered sufficiently crazy and evil enough to be portrayed as he was, without poetic license. The gross and ridiculous fictions added to this film make a mockery of the intelligence of the viewer, of the facts, and of history.
This cartoon characterization makes it too easy for us to overlook the lessons of that time. Evil isn't always black and white as it was portrayed here. That's why evil is so dangerous. But we didn't see any of that mixture in this film. He was portrayed like a young serial killer, burning his father's bees, torturing animals, etc, when the indication was he was the exact opposite with animals. That all his associates dreaded and feared him, when in fact many were and stayed devoted, even when the worst of his acts became known.
The paradox of Hitler is not that he was pure evil but that he could charm and inspire so many people, some ordinary and otherwise sane, to follow him willingly into such dark depths. How can we learn anything from this, how can we teach people to resist fatal charm when it violates their principles if we don't recognize this from history -- that one side of him enabled and ensnared for the other.
People who watch this movie will expect all evil to be obvious and plain. It isn't so simple.
It's a shame the script and characterization were so weak, because in other respects the production values were very good. I was hoping for more historical accuracy, even in a movie. This strayed so far from the truth in some respects that it became less history than fiction, and failed to document one of the real paradoxes of that time and one that should be a warning for the future, but became lost in this portrayal,
56 of 67 found the following review helpful:
Brilliantly done; a masterpiece May 29, 2006
By James T. Wheeler
I gave "The Rise of Evil" 5 stars because that's what it deserves. The show is extremely well-constructed, cast, and directed, even if the screenplay takes some liberties with history along the way. Yes, the story could have gotten along without the dog beating scene, the one where Hitler's father abuses him violently, and probably a few others. But the dramatic effect would have been impaired.
I watched the "making of" documentary that came with my DVD before I sat down to view the 3-hour movie. Then, I watched the documentary again after seeing the show. I'd recommend this approach to others to understand why the producer and director were subject to such criticism before and after the film was finished.
When this miniseries first came out we going out of town and totally missed it. My wife and I watch very little network TV because it doesn't seem like it's designed for thinking adults. This program is very much the exception and should be a must for anyone interested in world events and the dangers of facism.
Any review of this program must include comments on the performance of Robert Carlyle who plays the adult Hitler. Although the very Scottish Mr. Carlyle may be small in stature and far-removed from Hitler's teutonic roots he is mesmerizing as der Fuehrer. Carlyle captures the part so well you worry about what he could possibly do in the future to escape type-casting. It's all there: the iron will, the vicious temper, the evil political genius. Scary, truly scary.
The other actors in the show do very well, too, and there are a lot of well-defined characters. Peter O'Toole's role in the movie is limited but he does a fine job as President Hindenburg. The decent people who are steam-rolled by the 3rd Reich were sorry victims, indeed, but that's the way it must have been.
There were some characters who were notable by their absence, like Heinrich Himmler, Reinhold Heydrich, and Martin Bormann. Also missing was much on Nazi mysticism and the occult. Maybe these missing pieces are being held for a sequel. I'd certainly be interested if there were one.
17 of 20 found the following review helpful:
chilling and interesting portrayal Mar 31, 2008
By Robert J. Crawford
This is a good introduction to that all-encompassing epitome of evil, Hitler. While not excessively accurate from a historical standpoint, which Hitler buffs and academic types will protest, the story is well told and offers a wide range of emotion: you see Hitler as an abused child, an abject failure until the WWI experience that focused his rage, and then as a sociopathic seeker of power as a politician of genius. It evokes the time very well and has good characters, who are acted with true excellence by the fine cast.
I liked the journalist opponent, as played by Modine, who watched with amusement, then mortal fear, and serves as a kind of conscience for the German people in the film. He is excellent and convincing, along with his wife. Then there is the publisher and his wife, who are early adherents to the Party and for a time mesmerized. They too are excellent characters, mirroring another side of the German psyche that becomes increasingly ambivalent as Hitler gains power; it destroys their relationship. As I was unsure whether they were fictional characters, I looked them up and they are indeed historical figures, which makes this a first-rate bio-pic.
Then there is Carlyle, who makes a very very good Hitler. He holds himself in a way I have never seen him - more often in his career a well-meaning, almost floppy ne'er do well - as rigid, full of boiling hate, and a political shrewdness and brutality that are compelling and still frightening. Finally, there is the exceptional performance of Stormare as Roehm, the leader of the SA who is eventually murdered for political reasons, as Hitler consolidated his power. Stormare is a genuinely wonderful character actor, bringing an entire environment with him.
Recommended. It is powerful and fun and historically interesting.
21 of 26 found the following review helpful:
it is only by acknowledging Hitler's humanity that we may grasp the enormity of his crime May 22, 2008
2 and 1/2 stars
Ironically, this miniseries is every bit as biased as the Nazi propaganda it denounces. The film relies heavily on cliched portrayals of "innocent Jews," "heroic journalists," and "evil Nazis," and in the process ends up sacrificing sophistication to enact a heavy-handed morality play. It goes without saying that the film neglected historical accuracy for the sake of painting Hitler as a demon in human guise, misrepresenting segments of Hitler's life to further its agenda.
This sort of thinking is quite silly. Though human monsters, such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Peter Kurten have existed, Hitler was not one of them. Historical research has shown that he had a number of redeeming qualities: he was a brave and good soldier and considerate to those who worked under him. Though this might make many people uncomfortable, it is only by acknowledging Hitler's humanity that we may grasp the enormity of his crime. To do otherwise is to blind ourselves to the cruelty latent (or suppressed) in us all and impair our ability to recognize it.
Unfortunately, the film's handling of as complex a character as Hitler is woefully simplistic and ultimately unrealistic. Even Robert Carlyle's tremendous performance at times fails to avoid the realm of caricature. That said, the actors did an excellent job with the screenplay given them and the film was still quite captivating in its intensity despite its historical inaccuracies.
27 of 35 found the following review helpful:
Anti-Nazi Propaganda is still Propaganda Aug 19, 2008
By Andariel Halo
This mini-series film is utterly single-minded in its absolute certainty that Hitler could not have possibly been a normal person with any redeeming qualities whatsoever. From the very start, the child playing Hitler has such a wicked, sinister sneer on his face that you doubt a mother could even love it. From the start, he's always angry, always heartless, always abusive, and incapable of anything but anger. Even the death of his mother he snarkily says it's HER fault for dying.
From a personal viewpoint, Hitler lives his public persona, but to an infinitely more pathetic single-minded degree; he rambles on and on about Jews, communists, and everything else like an anti-semitic zealot, with no pause in any aspect of his personal life to his public persona. I cannot vouch for his personal views, or his views on the Jews in private, but a recently discovered historical audio clip shows that the private Hitler was not much like the public Hitler---he had good things to say about the communists, and the Soviet war machine. You'd not likely hear this Hitler say ANYTHING good about anyone but his own servants.
Somehow the film makes Hitler so vehemently anti-Jewish while simultaneously giving him more good Jewish influences than bad---there's the Jewish doctor who helped his mother during her cancer (he could potentially blame her for it, but still a positive Jew in his life), the Jewish soldier fighting alongside him in the front lines, the Jewish captain who despite being given orders not to, pushes to have Hitler awarded an Iron Cross.
The film also goes out of the way to include as many shots of Adolf Hitler coming close to death, as if to harangue the viewer endlessly with instances of "OOH IF ONLY SHE'D LET HIM KILL HIMSELF", "OOH IF ONLY HE'D STAYED IN THE TRENCH WHEN IT WAS SHELLED", "OOH DAMMIT IF ONLY HE WERE A FEW STEPS AHEAD AND GOT SHOT IN THE HEAD!" instances, which I believe is an insult to the memory of the man who caused so much suffering in the world. Maybe the idea of Hitler dying before the chance of controlling Germany is a positive one to some people to fantasize about, but for me, it simply doesn't work... I feel as though it insults the victims of the Holocaust and the War.
Another annoying instance is that whenever Adolf Hitler's full name is mentioned by someone, blatantly sinister and evil sounding music plays in the background. Sometimes it isn't played, but it's a very frequent occurrence.
On the positive side, Robert Carlyle, on Hitler's public persona, is absolutely flawless. He perfectly encapsulates Hitler's voice, translating it in english without any loss in power, encapsulates his hand and arm motions, and the power of his speaking. Even though the movie makes no distinction between a private Hitler and a public Hitler, Carlyle fits into the role fluidly, the way of a great actor. If the filmmakers had decided to take an unbiased route, I imagine Carlyle could have done far better, perhaps award winning, in portraying the violent, passionate public Hitler, and a more sinister, secluded, Caesarian private Hitler.
Instead, the Hitler in this film, when he steps off the podium, becomes a pathetic, sad little man, ranting and raving worse than a lunatic, with whom I believe absolutely no one would dare listen to or follow. The movie craps on the person of Hitler so thoroughly, I couldn't even imagine how Germany could rally behind him---he's nothing but a rabblerouser here, and unless every single person who worked with him behind the scenes were as bats*** insane and stupid as he is in this movie, I don't see how Robert Carlyle's Adolf Hitler could have ever risen to power.
And that, perhaps, is the greatest insult of all.
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