Downfall’s Downfall


If you can view the video clip above, Vimeo has not been compelled to take it down. Gulp, yet. The clip, using new subtitles, is from “Der Untergang“—”The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich”. I rented the captivating German film from Nextflix in August 2005. In the original scene, Hilter learns that he has lost the war. Its revision is one of the most successful and visible Internet memes of the last half decade. The scene has been repeatedly parodied, replacing the subtitles so that Hitler rages about something else.

In the clip above, the rage is directed to the downfall of “Downfall” parodies. Yesterday, YouTube complied with a request from Constantin Films to take them down (or disable them). One week ago, I blogged about the problem of onerous copyrights, contending they “restrict creativity and prohibit new artforms from emerging”. That so many people could turn the Hitler’s rage scene to something else says much positive about its staging, filming and the acting. This great art repeatedly became greater art in a different form. Copyrights stole away the art. Ironically, in an October 2009 interview, “Downfall” producer Bernd Eichinger spoke positively about the parodies:

I find those parodies tremendously amusing! Obviously, the film and this scene in particular is a real fire starter for people’s imagination. What else can you hope for as a filmmaker?  This is moviemaking heaven!  My favorite one is when Hitler is having his tantrum over his losses in the real estate crisis.

The real estate parody, like some others, remains on YouTube but with the audio stripped out. As I post: 1,938,250 views. Another, “Hitler Gets Banned from Xbox”, has more than 4.3 million views. By the way, it was the film company and not the producer that demanded YouTube remove the parodies. Sigh.