Captain Berlin versus Hitler (2009)
By: Devon B. on November 5, 2010  | 
DVD
MTD (Germany) | All Regions, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | German DD 2.0 | 75 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Jörg Buttgereit
Starring: Jürg Plüss, Claudia Steiger, Adolfo Assor, Sandra Steffl, Rafael Banasik
Screenplay: Jörg Buttgereit
Country: Germany
External Links
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If you're a fan of Jörg Buttgereit's feature films, don't get too excited when you see his name attached to Captain Berlin Versus Hitler. Firstly, this isn't technically a new Buttgereit film, and secondly, it is far more in the vein of his earlier shorts than his full length movies. The title should be something of a clue about the latter, given this movie stars one of Buttgereit's early creations, Captain Berlin.

The character debuted in Captain Berlin – Retter der Welt, my favourite of Buttgereit's shorts. It's a delightfully ridiculous little piece in which Buttgereit stars as the titular hero whose outfit is made up of a yellow jumpsuit, red undies, a Spider-Man mask and a Berlin flag. It's a bit of nonsense, but an extremely endearing bit of nonsense. The only drawback is it has this droning theme song that gets stuck in my head for days if I even think about it, and that damn theme song isn't just in the film Captain Berlin Versus Hitler, it starts up as soon as the DVD loads because it's the menu's backing track. Anyway, Captain Berlin is the most awesome superhero ever, and I was thrilled when I learned he was making his feature debut. He's not quite as cool in this film because he doesn't have his Spider-Man mask, but his outfit is still completely ludicrous.

So, what is Captain Berlin Versus Hitler? It's a play written and directed by Buttgereit which has been filmed by Thilo Gosejohann. This movie edition had a small theatrical run and now there's a limited edition DVD available for those of us that didn't catch it at the cinema or theatre (which is probably everyone outside of Germany). This isn't like your mum's video of your school play; effects have been added that are designed to make the film feel like you're reading a comic book while watching it. Some great care has been taken to create an interesting viewing experiencing for the movie going audience, and for the most part the film works as long as you're willing to allow it a few concessions.

The story goes something like this (or a lot like this because it is in fact the story): Biological manipulation was used during WWII to create the superhero Captain Berlin. Captain Berlin was supposed to assassinate Hitler, but he failed. Then Hitler had a go at completing Captain Berlin's mission by trying to kill himself when the war was ending. During his suicide attempt the bullet he fired missed his brain and his brain was saved by his doctor. 28 years later she puts his brain, a giant organ with eyes, into a thinking machine, which effectively brings Herr Hitler back to life. Here's where things get just a bit kooky. In order to fully restore Hitler, the doctor needs Dracula's blood. But Dracula needs the blood of a virgin so he can restore his powers. Despite having no powers, he turns into a giant bat and lazily swoops around then kidnaps Captain Berlin's daughter. Our hero is left fighting all sorts of zany foes to rescue his daughter and save his country from a new Reich.

Captain Berlin Versus Hitler is a film so silly I may wear out my thesaurus looking up synonyms for that word while writing this review. Those involved in the play are clearly having fun, and since I was very willing to go along with it, I had fun too. All sorts of zany stuff happens, but the play has a self-awareness that allows it to get away with the preposterous situations it presents. The only drawback with the film is that the acting, while perfectly suitable for a play, doesn't always translate well to film, but that shouldn't stop anyone from enjoying Buttgereit's best movie in 16 years.
Video
Captain Berlin Versus Hitler is presented at 1.85:1 and is anamorphically enhanced. The film has been Grindhoused, which renders a video review moot.
Audio
The sound is a 2.0 mix. This is a recording of the stage show, so there is some echoing in the venue. Some lines are left untranslated and there are a few minor errors in the subtitles. A little bit of the humour doesn't translate well, because the audience sometimes laughs when the English translation has no apparent joke. Overall the English version has been just as well crafted as the German one, with new comic book elements drawn up and all. The music and sound FX for the live play were done by Mark Reeder, the star of Nekromantik 2.
Extra Features

The English version is found in the extras menu, and it comes with an optional commentary by Reeder. This track focuses on the sound, naturally, but does go into some differences between the play and the movie. This isn't a feature length track; it only runs about 13 minutes and then has a bit extra on the end because Reeder can't work out how to stop the recording. There're a few extras that may be less interesting to those that don't speak German: some backstage footage (no subs), footage from the premier with a Q&A (no subs), and a still gallery (no subs). Fortunately both the original Captain Berlin short and Captain Berlin Gegen Hyxar short are included with subs. Buttgereit's fans will have no doubt seen the original by now, but this disc was my first chance to see the follow up short. Unfortunately, it's not much, and appears unfinished. We also get the trailer and the trailers for Captain Cosmotic and Operation Dance Sensation, none of which have subtitles. The last two films are by Gosejohann, and Captain Cosmotic looks like it would appeal to Captain Berlin's fans. There's also a German language commentary (no subs) with Buttgereit and Gosejohann, which is accessed from the Tonauswahl menu. This menu scared me because it informs the viewer of the Captain Berlin theme song maxi-single. The song haunts me so, and yet I kinda want the single. Completing the release are a dog tag and a short comic detailing Captain Berlin's previous encounter with Hitler. The comic's in German (no subs), but the pictures tell the story, too, so even the monolinguists should be able to get the basics. Lastly, the cover is reversible so you don't need to have that large German rating on display if you don't want to.

The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Silly, silly, silly. Captain Berlin Versus Hitler is a bit of goofy fun, with some nice style touches done for those watching at home. I'm really glad I got a chance to see this play, and hope this DVD is a sign that Buttgereit might make some more films. The DVD will be of better value to those that speak German, but it is a German release so that makes sense. The DVD is a very limited release, but is still available in Germany. The price tag is pretty hefty, but I got a reduction at checkout because I live overseas, which helped make it more affordable.

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