Swastika: Controversial German Docu of 1973 Back in Circulation

April 4, 2009–Philippe Mora and Lutz Becker’s 1973 documentary about how Nazis infiltrated German lives had a troubled history since its Cannes Film Fest premiere, which had to be stopped when audience members began fighting. However, after a 36-year ban in Germany, it will premiere at the Biberach Film Festival in October, followed by a screening in Berlin.

The footage that inspired the fisticuffs came from Eva Braun’s color home movies of Adolf Hitler playing with children at his home in Obersalzberg.

In an email to key media venues, Mora wrote, “Of course, the whole point of the film was that Hitler was a human being and if we didn’t recognize that, we would not see the next one coming.” (He also says that German “distributors claimed, among other things that it was anti-German.”)

“Swastika” opened in London, Washington D.C, Paris and Sydney. A stolen print also wound up unwound on the graves of Jews at Paris’ Pere Lachaise cemetary. (Mora credits “Baader Meinhof types” for that stunt.)

Writes Mora:I am Jewish, my father was high up in the French Resistance and my godfather was Marcel Marceau, another Jewish resistance fighter — they both thought the film was spot on. Marceau once did an instant imitation of Hitler at the late Le Dome that brought the house down. Generally the reviews got it, and were great–first look at the real Hitler, etc. Washington Post, Time magazine, Variety & many others gave kudos. (BTW the home movie color film we located is now on cable in myriad films every day–History Channel, etc.). Bert Schneider’s BBS picked it up for U.S and it was released non-theatrically by Paramount, and theatrically by the Pedas Brothers in D.C.

The film will also receive a special screening at the British Film Institute in September, followed by a new DVD release in the U.K.