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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Director defends Hitler portrayal
Noah Taylor in Max
Noah Taylor plays the young Hitler
The director of a controversial film portraying the life of a young Adolf Hitler has defended it against critics who say it shows him in a sympathetic light.

Menno Meyjes' film Max - named after the central character Max Rothman - has been accused of humanising the dictator and blaming his rise to tyranny on his failure as an artist.

It explores the relationship between Hitler, an aspiring painter played by Noah Taylor, and Rothman (John Cusack), who opened an art gallery in Munich at the end of the first world war.

Meyjes said critics were wrong to say that the film suggested Hitler would never have climbed to power if he had been successful as an artist.

John Cusack in Max
John Cusack is the central character, Max Rothman
He denied that the film suggested Hitler had pursued his genocide plan because the art world that rejected him was dominated by Jewish patrons.

"A lot of people look at a film like this but they don't see it, and it just pushes certain buttons in them," he told Monday's edition of Breakfast on BBC One.

"Max Rothman goes out of his way to help Adolf Hitler, to try to bring him to the light.

"And to say that at that point the art community was dominated by rich Jewish collectors is simply not true."

Meyjes said he had not become at all sympathetic towards Hitler during the making of the film, which is out in the UK on Friday.

"If you say Hitler is a monster and always was a monster, you remove the element of choice," he said.

"Hitler made a choice to become a monster because he found life very difficult - well, we all find life difficult, especially if you are an artist or aspire to anything."

He added that Hitler had been obsessed with fame - whether as an artist or politician, "which makes him very modern".

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