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This is certainly understandable, for how is one to "explain" an Adolph Hitler? How is one to reconcile the man who was responsible for the deaths of millions with a flesh-and-blood person who lived and breathed like the rest of us? The answers to these questions have eluded sociologists, psychologists and artists for decades now and it is the rare person who even attempts to provide us with some possible explanations. It is for this reason that writer/director Menno Meyjes deserves extraordinary praise for bringing "Max" to the screen. Is it possible for a single film - especially one that runs a mere 108 minutes - to successfully address this bewilderingly complex subject? Probably not, but "Max" certainly takes a bold first step in trying to piece together this most mystifying of psychoanalytical puzzles.
Meyjes begins his story in 1918, immediately after the Germans have suffered a crushing defeat in World War I and now face further humiliation in the form of punitive measures meted out by the Versailles Treaty. We see Hitler as essentially an embittered 30-year-old social misfit, a rootless, impoverished, down-on-his-luck painter whose work shows some promise but who keeps being told that he needs to find that "authentic voice" that will distinguish his work from that of his more successful artistic contemporaries.Read more ›
Writer-director Menno Meyjes explores this idea in the 2002 film "Max," in which Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor) is still living in military barracks in Munich as Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles and is trying to make a name as an artist. He shows his work to Max Rothman (John Cusack), a Jewish art dealer who lost an arm in the World War and who is consumed by the idea of the subversiveness of modern art. Hitler disparages such ideas, considering them "blood poisoning." Rothman and Hitler argue about art, both in terms of the futurist movement and Hitler's lack of an "authentic voice" in his own work.
Meanwhile, at the barracks of the decommissioned army, Hitler is folding laundry and being courted by Captain Mayr (Ulrich Thomsen), who is teaching a class on propaganda. Mayr is a historic figure and it is in his responses to Mayr and others in the barracks that Hitler is his most articulate and persuasive in dispensing his particular brand of venom.
The major fault I find in this film is that both the script and Taylor's performance play too quickly to the ranting Hitler. One of the great distortions of Hitler's legacy is that the black & white film footage of Hitler speaking comes from the climax of his speeches, when he has worked himself and his audience into frenzy.Read more ›
Menno Meyjes (Empire of the Sun, Ricochet) steps behind the camera for the first time to direct his own controversial script. Like most controversial scripts, this one got built up a lot more than it should have by people who probably haven't even seen the blasted thing.
The story centers on Max Rothman (John Cusack), a wealthy Jewish art dealer not long after the end of World War I, before the massive German depression kicks in. He is a staunch modernist, but modern art isn't selling too well in a Germany that just got its head handed to it on a platter, and Rothman is looking for a new angle. He meets a young, promising artist by the name of Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor, from Almost Famous). Rothman and Hitler develop a testy friendship of opposites, with Rothman's libertinism and Hitler's asceticism grating against one another mercilessly, but the two men have a grudging respect for one another, and Rothmann has a genuine desire to help Hitler's career (if, one thinks, only for Rothman's impending success as an art dealer).
The story of the making of Max is a tale of Hollywood political correctness run roughshod over creativity. The film was originally to be produced by Amblin Entertainment, but Spielberg-though he thought the script a brilliant one-pulled out at the last minute because of fears of a backlash from the Jewish community. With production at a standstill, Cusack immediately forewent his salary because of his belief in the viability of the film. (In the end, it was produced by an international conglomeration of companies, including Film Council UK (Formula 51, Bend It Like Beckham) and Canadian producers Alliance (eXistenZ).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Let me say that "awful" does not begin to describe this hokey attempt at depicting post-WWI's increasing anti-semitic atrocities. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Astrid
This is an interesting take on Hitler. But I bought two copies of the DVD. One has problems with the audio and the other doesn't play at all! Read morePublished 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
For once, a recreation of Germany post WWI without cliches. Fascinating portrayal of Hitler and his relationship with a Jewish art dealer. Read morePublished 4 months ago by B. Pocker
The film Max (2002)… not to be confused with Max (2015) about a dog… I found to be a worthwhile experience. Read morePublished 5 months ago by F.Hoffman
A great movie .Noah Taylor deserved an academy award for his performance in playing a young Adolph Hitler... Read morePublished 5 months ago by DEG 2015