Monday, August 11, 2008

Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (2002)

Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary is a feature-length interview with 81-year-old Austrian Traudl Junge, who served as Hitler's personal secretary from 1942 to 1945, when she was in her early twenties. She saw Hitler in his everyday life, right up until his final days, and she witnessed, firsthand, the collapse of the Nazi regime. After the war, Junge was "de-Nazified" by Allied forces as part of a program of amnesty for young people. She remained silent about her experiences for nearly 60 years, until she agreed to be interviewed by artist Andre Heller, whose own Jewish father escaped Austria as the Nazis came to power. Heller and documentarian Othmar Schmiderer edited ten hours of interview footage into the 90-minute film, which uses no archival footage, photos, or background music. It's just Junge describing her experiences on camera and occasionally watching the video playback of herself as she describes those experiences. Junge denies any real knowledge or understanding of what the Nazis were doing while she worked for them. She discusses how she was taken in by Hitler, who seemed fatherly and kind. She describes his personality. She goes into harrowing detail about the last days in the bunker. At times, she seems overwhelmed by her sense of shame at her own ignorance and naïveté. Presumably unburdened after decades of guilt, Junge passed away just hours after Blind Spot was shown at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Panorama Audience Prize. The film was also shown at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival, and the 2002 New York Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 87 mins
Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (2002)
For me a griping tale since although it is just a person answering questions, we can see the anguish and despair at being part of Hitler's war machine. I know many can not and will not accept her version of events, but I think after this long of time, she would want to tell the truth. I think she did her best to reconcile in herself what events did happen and how she got caught up into the machine of Fascism/Socialism. The film reminds me a lot of S21-Khmer Rouge, although it passes on the places and staged events like S21. But the fact of being there and experiencing a part of what she went through in the last days of the Nazi Party.

She goes into detail about her family life and how without spelling out made her acceptable to being manipulated by others-especially Hitler himself. This could definitely make a good film in how she escaped from the bunker and events leading up to that as well as her being captured by the US and her ordeal there.

Other than wanting more of her talk not being edited out, I can not think of anything I would have wanted differently. Although the parts of her watching herself seems strange, in the third person.

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