The secret life of Hitler

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

WHEN intimate colour film of Adolf Hitler cuddling a pet dog and smiling tenderly like a baby was shown for the first time at the Cannes Film Festival 36 years ago, a scuffle broke out in the audience and the screening had to be abandoned.

The documentary, Swastika, contained extraordinary, never-before-seen footage of Hitler entertaining friends, family and his inner circle — including Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels. Much of it was shot by his girlfriend, Eva Braun, at Hitler's Bavarian mountain retreat, the Berghof in Obersalzberg.

The colour vision of Hitler as a human being rather than a long-dead monster depicted in grainy black and white so outraged some audience members that fisticuffs broke out and the German distributors panicked. The movie later opened in other countries, including the US, Britain and France, but despite widespread critical acclaim, it was mothballed and Germany banned it.

Last week, however, Swastika — and its Australian director, Philippe Mora — were warmly welcomed back to Berlin by a new generation. Championed by the esteemed German documentary maker Ilona Ziok, the film was shown in the cinema used by the Nazis in Berlin; it opened the Biberach Film Festival in Munich; and there are special screenings planned in Dresden this week.

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