March 9, 2021

The boy who had Hitler as an invisible friend



The cinematographic proposal of “Jo Jo Rabbit”, directed by the New Zealander Taika Waititi is a somewhat unusual film about Nazi Germany. Despite the profusion of examples that have historically portrayed the historical period of Nazism from disparate perspectives, humor has rarely been the main route of representation. However, on this occasion Waititi uses irony and acidity to structure a black comedy that tells the story of a ten-year-old boy who discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl under her roof. He has described it as a satire against hate. And that satirical point is introduced into the plot through the imaginary friend of the young protagonist: Adolf Hitler. The film has won 6 Oscar nominations, including the nomination for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Scarlett Johansson. Waititi has become in recent years one of Hollywood’s favorite directors and his films «Boy» (2010) and «Hunt for the Wilder People» (2016), are the most viewed in his native New Zealand. In the USA, it also destroyed “Thor: Ragnarok” in 2017 and now prepares the sequel “Thor: Love And Thunder,” starring Chris Hemsworth. His interpretative facet has not diminished his achievements as a filmmaker and has participated as an actor in films such as “Green Lantern”, or more recently “Avengers Endgame.” The New Zealander knows how to alternate good-blown popcorn movies with more authorial quality films, so he seems to have won the approval of critics and audiences for now.

– How would you describe the main character of the film “Jo Jo Rabbit”?

–Where do I start… Jo Jo Rabbit is a child whose life goes on during the early days of Nazi Germany. Like all the kids who live in the German territory of the Hitler Youth during this time, their claim is to become the best possible Nazi.

–Jo Jo has a somewhat particular imaginary friend …

–Spoiler (laughs). Yes, right, Jo Jo Rabbit has Hitler as an imaginary friend, to whom I give life (laughs). A Jewish Polynesian from New Zealand called Taika Waititi.

–The film is called «Jo Jo Rabbit», and Jo Jo befriends a Jewish girl. Did you have trouble convincing the studio to be able to make this film?

– Basically they told me that if I wanted to make the film it had to be me who played Hitler. At first I thought it was true madness that I gave it life, but in the end they convinced me. The only way it made sense to interpret it was thinking that this Hitler comes at the end of the head of a child who keeps thinking. That for some reason, his imagination reflects a Führer who at the end of the day is a fairly authentic person, a man with the mind of a ten-year-old boy.

– When did you write the script?

– In 2011 and we started doing it in 2017. During that period of time many people told me that I was crazy for wanting to mix humor with the Nazis. It’s been 80 years since Charlie Chaplin premiered “The Great Dictator” and I think that since then virtually nobody has done anything similar. I already played.

– There are people who have found the film somewhat controversial.

– One I could not be afraid of a film of these characteristics. I don’t want to have the feeling that I need to defend myself or justify myself. Given the resurgence of the neo-Nazi movement in some parts of the world that someone finds a film about a child whose imaginary friend Hitler is “controversial” seems somewhat exaggerated.

– How was the process of having to become Hitler?

–A damn nightmare (laughs). We were rolling in Europe in summer and it was tremendously hot. I thought about the odd moment that my mind was going to go (laughs). When your body is lacking certain vitamins, you acquire a somewhat sour character. And all this was just seeing me painted white, without having yet put on the suit. I couldn’t be in the sun because I get very hot in five minutes. In addition they had to put this chemical in my hair to straighten it and dye it black because I have it plagued with gray hair.

–The character played by Scarlett Johansson is that of a mother who interacts with her child, preventing what is happening around her from affecting her. Did you get inspired by some other movie character?

– I think Scarlett’s character has a bit of Roberto Benigni in “Life is beautiful.” My intention is for the viewer to fall in love with her, to see her as the solid foundation of the film. The rest of the characters are running like headless chickens and their only goal is to keep their child safe from chaos.

On April 20, 1945 Hitler turned 56 years old. His last outdoor photograph shows him in the Chancellery’s garden decorating children of the Hitler Youth distinguished in the first clashes of the Oder’s battle against the Soviets; He even caressed some of the little ones. In the immense photographic collection that is preserved of him appears hundreds of times surrounded by children, receiving children, greeting children if they were on a walk or if they were waiting for him at the edge of the alpine road towards Obersalzberg to see him pass in his car … After the victory over Poland, he spent the Christmas holidays in the Alps and suggested to his lover Eva Braun to invite Göbbels, Bormann and Speer, with their wives and children, “because he adored the graces of the children” and those happy holidays filled with attention and gifts. A gardener of the Chancellery believed in 1939 that the Fuehrer was “a sincere and homelike man … He loves children and dogs.” The most enjoyed was with the Göbbels, with whom he spent several Christmas during the war presenting himself at home loaded with gifts. The children of Göbbels also visited him on his birthdays, giving him his crafts, as it happened, even on the last birthday of 1945. However Hitler had no children, unless it is known. When Eva Braun suggested they have children, he refused: “No children, no clandestine or illegitimate births.”

David SOLAR

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