Kill Adolf! Убей Адольфа! Ich Möchte Adolf Töten!

Film students Tobias Haase, Jan Mettler and Lydia Lohse from the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy, worked on a diploma project. They created a very short advert  video clip to play on the Mercedes Benz theme “Mercedes recognizes danger before it happens.”

Bucolic village or little town. Idyllic rural life. Adults are toiling, children are playing.  A magnificent automobile rolls down the road. Mercedes. Super-sleek and super smart.

Two schoolgirls in uniforms run into the street in front of it.  The car reacts quickly, stopping short, thus demonstrating Mercedes’ eerily intelligent breaking technology. The car drives off.

Then the boy, flying a kite, suddenly runs in front of the Mercedes, and the smart car takes a very different approach to his safety — the automobile neither brakes nor swerves. It goes for a kill. “Adolf!” the boy’s mother is screaming.

The boy is not just any Adolf, but Adolf Hitler. It becomes apparent when the camera pulls out and the name of the village is revealed. Braunau-am-Inn is the Austrian town where Adolf Hitler was born, and every German and Austrian knows it. Now I know it too. The boy’s dead body lies in the dust, folded into the shape of swastika.  Mercedes detected danger before it happened… and eliminated it.

In a short time the clip went viral because of it’s morally controversial and rather graphic take on… history? Alternative history? The techno-genius of German auto-industry?

Spiegel Magazine praised the inventive short film for pushing the boundaries of what a viewer expects from advertising.

“May a powerful six-cylinder car change the history of the world?  This is a funny video with lingering criticism of technology — the filmmakers have really earned their diplomas.”

Indeed they did.

Personally, I find it exceedingly funny that Spiegel finds this video funny. Do you, too, think that either the aim or the upshot of this video was lingering criticism of technology?

Mercedes Benz, by the way, wasn’t exactly overjoyed to be attached in any way to this project. The disclaimers “This is a film school’s submission. There exists no past or current affiliation to Mercedes Benz or Daimler AG,” were added to the clip in response to the company’s demand.

Spiegel again, “What would the world think if machines have a soul? Where could it lead, if technology makes decisions about life and death?” Cringe-evoking question, IMHO. “Kretinismus” is a good German word for it.

What if a man had a soul... indestructible, persevering, incorruptible..?

Russians have a lot to say about Adolf Hitler, and never miss a chance to say it, particularly if provoked. And this little clip, indeed, is provocative, and not in the way Spiegel sees it…  Russian blogosphere erupted into a discussion of moral values about us and them.  Come and See, a 1985 Russian war drama/psychological thriller film, directed by Elem Klimov, was collectively evoked, particularly the movie’s powerful final scene .

Fuhrer as an infant

Fuhrer as an infant

The protagonist, a teenager named Flyora, survives the war, miraculously escaping death while his entire family perishes. Bedraggled and grey-haired, he sees a portrait of Hitler thrown into the mud. Crazed with rage, he begins to shoot at it.  His every shot is accompanied by the documentary newsreel with Wagnerian soundtrack, showing —  in reverse chronological order — the key events of Hitler’s life and Nazis rise to power: WWII, concentration camps, Nazi marches, the Beer Hall Putsch, the unrest in the Weimar Republic, WWI…

Flyora fires one shot after another, until the backward time-film-roll zeroes on  a photograph of Adolf Hitler as an infant in his mothers arms…  And Flyora drops the gun. It’s above him to kill a child… even if it’s just a picture… even it’s Hitler.

Play the video. It’s powerful stuff. No translation necessary. For some reason it is loading awfully slow, click on YouTube logo to watch it off-site.

This is where WE are different from THEM, is the consensus among Russians… Honestly, I’m not too thrilled with this opinion and even more so with the mass solidarity of expression. But then again, the topic is way too complicated to be be given justice in this post.

In one of Russian blogs I found a short sketch by Russian writer Peter Bormor, who writes fairy-tales and fables mostly.  It goes like this, and I translate:

“Very well, then. You rescued a child from a fire.
“I did.”
“And you died in the fire.”
“Yes, that’s what happened.”
“You’ve been informed that the fate of the world depends on your action, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I know now.”
“Well, then. Let’s see what happens now. Page 128,396,350,992-I, paragraph 6. Uh-huh. This child would’ve grown to become a great villain, a theorist and practitioner of genocide, a bloody dictator. Congratulations.”
“Are you saying that, because of my actions, Evil is going to win?
“It is not yet known. But if you had not rushed to rescue someone else’s child from certain death, risking your own life, we should’ve concluded that Evil has won already…”

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2 comments on “Kill Adolf! Убей Адольфа! Ich Möchte Adolf Töten!

  1. Of many ways to write an alternative history (to correct past “wrongs”) the mercedes clip seems most infantile. Do they go to Film academy straight after the kindergarten?

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