Hitler’s Folly (2016)

Director: Bill Plympton

Oh look, an ACTUAL NEW FILM! Not only am I back watching films, I’m even watching films that have only been out for a couple of months rather than a couple of decades… I don’t know an awful lot about Bill Plympton other than that he’s an animator, Oscar-nominated and all that, and apparently prone to attracting controversy; reportedly he made one of his recent films because he was stung by criticism that he couldn’t do anything but excessive sex and violence. Well, on the basis of this, he can, evidently, do… other things. This one was clearly designed to provoke, and it’s done that; three of Plympton’s own staff quit rather than work on it, and it inspired this enraged review, which was what made me want to check it out after I discovered its existence somewhat randomly this afternoon.

So, basically, Hitler’s Folly posits an alternative interpretation of Nazi Germany as a kind of film society with Hitler as an aspiring animator with a particular thing for a character called Downy Duck, and WW2 as an attempt to make an animated feature version of Die Nibelungen starring the duck and various other European cartoon characters. It’s not actually animated itself, which means it probably wasn’t my best choice of first Plympton film, actually being mostly a collage of stock film and Photoshoppery presented like one of those Youtube conspiracy videos made up of the same sort of thing. And I kind of understand the reactions from Plympton’s crew now that I’ve seen it, though I liked it a bit more than him; I would probably also have reservations about being involved with something like this. But I do agree with Mike D’Angelo too, though I probably liked it a bit more than him; I think the concept is great (and the scenes of Hitler in his Downy Duck costume inserted into the period footage is actually kind if inspired), but an hour of it is way too much of it, and it doesn’t go far enough over the edge. Couldn’t help but think how much more effective it might’ve been as a “real” documentary rather than this “conspiracy” thing (which features our “researchers” being pursued by Nazis for no reason that I could discern), one that had more courage with its tastelessness. And it’s hard to entirely disagree with D’Angelo’s claim that Plympton has posted it online for free viewing because no one would actually pay for it… It’s nowhere near as fundamentally wrong as All This and World War 2, but it still feels like a missed opportunity somehow. For what I’m not sure, but an opportunity for something…

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