The figure and the "phenomenon" Adolf Hitler, who influenced the 20th century more than any other person, has not yet been fully explained, even 70 years after his death. Based on the most extensive compilation of archive material to date, including many previously unpublished sources, Hitler's life story is depicted in detail against the social backdrop of the first half of the 20th century and a contemporary interpretation made.
Astonishingly, only two national or international cinema documentaries have addressed Adolf Hitler as an individual to date, the last of them - Joachim Fest's ‘Hitler: Eine Karriere’ (Hitler: A Career) - dating back to 1977, despite the fact that Adolf Hitler is undoubtedly the person who has influenced the 20th century more than any other. He continues to interest people worldwide. The nearly 40 years that have passed since the last cinema documentary necessitate the production of a new, contemporary and style-defining biographical Hitler film for the cinema. Although the subject has been dealt with from every imaginable angle on television, the opportunity for a feature-length movie, which is not bound by the constraints of the TV format, offers a completely different way of addressing the topic. The film differs from previous productions in both the choice of source material used and the narrative style.
While documentaries traditionally combine explanations and statements with what is regarded as suitable archive material and so called eyewitnesses and omniscient experts usually retrospectively put what is depicted into context, the film completely dispenses with statements from eyewitnesses and experts and also, as far as possible, with an explanatory commentary, which is inserted very sparingly in selected places to provide the relevant background facts. Otherwise, the film is limited to a montage of original quotes, speeches and writings by Adolf Hitler, his vassals, opponents and other contemporaries, as well as contemporary documents. As a result, the film deliberately does not rely on contemporary witnesses and experts looking back in retrospect, but only on original sources from the time such as diaries, letters, contemporary journalism and autobiographical memoires. As a result, the viewer is able to form his own picture based on the events of the time. The film deliberately does not deliver a "bite-sized" prefabricated image of Adolf Hitler. The viewer has to form his own opinion consciously.
This is supported by a special selection of archive material. Most documentaries on the subject largely use the same, generally known scenes. These are often used incorrectly from an historical perspective and are employed because of the supposedly relevant picture content. Furthermore, many of these sources are from newsreels and comparable productions that served a propaganda purpose and thus influence the viewer and are manipulative in terms of their message. The film will not only stand out because the sources were researched at great length historically. It will, above all, largely use hitherto unknown material that often stems from private sources, thus providing a more realistic, genuine picture. This other image plane and hence also different reception opportunity is made possible by a dramatically changed situation as regards the film sources. In recent years, material from private and non-governmental sources has increasingly come to light and offers very different, unbiased perspectives. In addition, the number of color films from the period that have been found has risen sharply. Whereas black and white shots often convey a certain distance to the events, color films create a strong substantive reference to the present day. This effect is supported by extensive HD rendering and the restoration of film sources.
The film therefore roots Hitler's life story in a fifty-year period that will also be examined in parallel and provides the basis for understanding the person – if this is at all possible. More than any other Hitler biography, the film depicts everyday European life between 1889 and 1945 in impressive images as visual explanatory, comprehension and memory aids. Divided into 17 largely chronological chapters and a prologue, the film relates the life of Adolf Hitler as it interacts with and responds to Austrian and German society as well as the national and international political trends and events during the first half of the 20th century.
The film makes no attempt at a speculative psychological interpretation of Adolf Hitler's actions, rise to power and criminal acts based on his personal background and the social circumstances. The makers instead see the "Führer" as a welcome and willingly accepted "projection" of a large part of the German nationalist circles. In these traditionally authoritarian and ultimately "apolitical" sections of society, Hitler's actions and those of his followers express and highlight a latent chauvinistic consciousness, which ultimately led to the catastrophe of World War II and the holocaust. The writer and producer therefore consider it possible to avoid giving the viewer answers, to confront contradictory statements of contemporaries with others, including Hitler's, and to limit the commentary to the hard and established facts.
The film is produced in HD quality. Many of the historic film sources have been scanned again in HD and are restored where possible. The result is a new, modern visual aesthetic, which is essential to achieve acceptance among an audience that is increasingly accustomed to ultra-sharp "glossy images" (especially in the case of younger viewers). The mostly silent original sources are dubbed as faithfully as possible, giving a historically appropriate atmosphere to achieve a contemporary form of representation even with respect to the soundtrack.