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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 16:57 GMT
Goebbels und Gedulgig

Newsnight Review discussed Goebbels und Gedulgig, the first ever comic treatment of Nazi Germany, broadcast on ARD, Germany's national television station.



(Edited highlights of the panel's review)

MARK LAWSON:
Rosie, it's been billed as a comedy, fantastically daring. Is it either of those?

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
It's certainly not a comedy as I understand comedy. It was probably risky being the first time there has been a send-up of Nazi Germany. I liked it. It has a neat plot and neat ending. It has wonderful film allusions - girls skipping round in nice skirts, like the Vontrap family.

The send-up is mild, except for Hitler who is raving mad, so it's amazing how sensitive this issue still is. It was argued about. It had to be held back. It could have gone so much further.

MARK LAWSON:
Ian Rankin, we have had experiments with taste in the UK, for example, the Chris Morris Brass Eye about paedophilia. Did you feel this was really pushing the boundaries of taste?

IAN RANKIN:
Hitler is beyond parody; you will never capture how awful he was as a historical human being. It could have gone further.

There is an interesting story, not only of mistaken identity, but of what playing a Nazi could do to you if you were anti-Nazi. If you were a Jew you could become a Nazi to save yourself. Jews in some instances became Nazis which explains what happened in the Holocaust, about fitting in and not sticking out from the crowd.

PAUL MORLEY:
'Allo 'Allo it isn't. It's not as funny as Kraftwerk. They haven't reached where we are with satire. Even the music had a quaint quality about it. It's sad that this is their first real go at dealing with it.

There was something tender about the way they did it. The Goebbels character was played by a comedian who reminded me of the Spanish comedians who appear at the Canadian Comedy Festival who use mime. They have no experience of sophisticated word play and it's sad, lonely and tender.

In the end, I enjoyed it, but I can't understand what the intended audience of people who have been born in Germany since the '70s will make of it or whether it will help them deal with the incredible burden that they have.

MARK LAWSON:
The main joke is in the use of jaunty music. There are powerful moments, for example, when the Nazis end up praising a man who is Jewish, it makes a powerful point about how random all the prejudices were.

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
That's the point Ian made, that once you are captivated by power you do frightful things to your neighbours and you become someone you don't recognise. It showed the strength of the power of the Reich.


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