eBook (PDF), 72 Pages
On its original release in 2011, I, Mengele quickly became one of the most successful British films ever made. As the first completed co-production between the film industries of Hollywood and the Third Reich, and as a technically innovative "realist fantasy" film, its historic importance has never been doubted even where its artistic credentials have been called into question. Dr Philip Challinor provides a concise overview of the film's making and critical reception, and undertakes a thoroughgoing assessment of its story and style. This study makes the case for I, Mengele as a significant artistic and cultural achievement of National Socialism and the British cinema.
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Apr 10, 2014I can only echo the review by Tim Stevens. I'm tempted to say this is Philip Challinor's best work yet. It's a subtle and satisfying read that doesn't lead you by the nose - there are no Vegas rimshots to signal the jokes making it all the more satisfying when you spot them. I'd recommend repeated or close reading as the further you dig the more you'll find. It's one for anyone who enjoys a grim smile or the flash of terrible recognition - the world Challinor describes is horribly and compellingly familiar.
Apr 8, 2014I, Mengele purports to be an essay on a fantasy war film about the life of the Nazi doctor, produced jointly by a Hollywood studio and the “British Regional Film Authority” in 2011. In this alternate setting, Britain sued for peace with Germany in 1941 and has become a territory of the Reich, which has cordial if not exactly friendly relations with the other world superpower, the United States. The Mengele film was conceived as a blockbuster following the success of the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars franchises, was a hit on its release, and is now deemed worthy of serious analysis by a respected critic. Challinor maintains this conceit by playing it dead straight. The essay is a poker-faced account of the development of the production and of the film itself. Initial digs at Hollywood and the rise of the blockbuster with its reliance on spectacle give way to profoundly unsettling revelations about the fictional world from which the film arises. The Nazis do battle with hordes of... More > Slavs, gypsies and Jews who are portrayed as literal monsters: hulking ogres, tentacled winged beasts, oozing protoplasmic horrors. These provoke controversy among the film’s fictitious critics, not for the reasons you might expect but because they’re deemed by some to be cinematically unsubtle and obvious. Similarly, the film’s graphic depictions of mass murder in the gas chambers and of horrific medical experimentation are condemned for being unnecessarily graphic, though the atrocities they portray aren’t regarded as such. The film is brought to life so vividly that you feel you’ve actually seen it before, and some aspects of it you probably have; the battle sequences bring to mind the LOTR trilogy and, more pertinently, Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. It manages to sound both genuinely spectacular and crassly awful, with its cloyingly kitsch scenes of noble Teutonic farm life and mawkish recycling of the old tropes about the loving family man forced by duty to do distasteful things at work. Despite the subject matter, this is a truly funny work. Jokes are to be found everywhere, even in the author biography and the chapter headings. The essay is peopled with names like Dacre and Griffin, and I’m sure I missed countless other references. And the fake bibliography at the end is excellent; my favourite title is “Brollywood Unfurled: The Rise of the British Regional Cinema”. All in all, I, Mengele is a dark, mutifaceted gem, destined to be misinterpreted and misunderstood.< Less
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- Philip Challinor (Standard Copyright License)
- First Edition
- April 8, 2014
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