In German director David Wnendt’s Look Who’s Back (Er ist Wieder Da), Adolf Hitler wakes up in today’s culturally diverse, Angela Merkel-led Berlin. Able-bodied and full of the same political verve he had in 1945, the dictator takes to the streets, remarking on the remarkably un–Third-Reich–like state of things, and acquiring a horde of fans delighted by his elaborate “performance art.” Based on Timur Vermes’ divisive, best-selling novel of the same name (which was cheekily priced at 19.33 euros, after the year that Hitler rose to power), the film was a major hit at the German box office, where it grossed nearly $22 million. Now, Netflix has picked up the global rights and will stream the madcap comedy on April 9.
Filmmakers have long sought to ridicule, emasculate, and even obliterate Hitler in everything from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, but Wnendt’s mockumentary satire takes its comedic cues from Borat, letting genuine interactions occur between a walking, talking Hitler and today’s Berliners. The effect, as Wnendt admitted, is equal parts hilarious and uncomfortable—Wnendt’s camera captures a German population that, 70 years later, remains transfixed by its Nazi past—but Wnendt maintains that we should feel free to laugh at evil, even when we’re still reckoning with its presence.
The film also represents an ironic twist for its production company, Constantin. Years after they released the self-serious Downfall in 2004, Constantin executives worked tirelessly to remove the resulting Medusa head of angry Hitler parodies from the Internet before conceding that the task was impossible. Now they’ve really thrown in the towel.
Watch teasers for the movie below. Among other gags, the revived Führer learns how to Google and goes down his first Wiki-hole: “World domination.”