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Why Hitler Reacts Videos are so Entertaining.

September 4, 2012

 

You can’t spend a serious amount of time on the internet without encountering a meme that’s gone viral in the comments to an article, while stumbling around youtube, or cluttering your email from a friend.  I thought it would be edutaining to take a closer look at some of the funnier, longer-lasting ones, to really dive into what makes them stand out about the rest.

 

Which brings us to:

This approximately five minute clip from the 2004 film ‘Downfall’ is, by itself, a memorable scene, with a brilliant performance by German actor Bruno Ganz that, even untranslated, anyone can can appreciate.  But what happens when you take some creative liberties with the subtitling?  You can get something like this:

 

One is a chilling portrayal of a man who loses everything.  One is a absurd overreaction to a trivial event.  The latter has come to be known as Hitler Reacts to X, where X can be anything.

One of the reasons why there are literally hundreds of parody videos of that scene out there is the ease in which the average person can produce them.  All it takes is extremely basic video editing techniques and some clever dialogue, and Ganz’s performance does the rest.  It is an effective method of presenting a platform with great emotion and amazing production values, so long as you can formulate your opinion into a rant, with a few comments from other’s sprinkled in.

Once you’ve watched a couple of them, the viewer, in much the same way avid romance novel fans do, becomes comfortable with the flow of the scene.  You’ll be able to anticipate, even expect, the non-verbal events of the scene, and a fun game can be made out of guessing, purely by the title of the video, what and when Hitler will say.

Far less common is expanding the footage found to include other scenes from the movie, and/or adding clips from other sources to aid in getting your point across.  Both are a lot more work, and the latter, in my opinion, takes away from the gravity of the rant by replacing engaging performance, the element that started this whole mess, with something else.

But be careful!  Don’t let yourself get sucked in too deep, or you’ll be cursed to spend hours upon hours gazing a Hitler’s weathered face.  The only thing more dangerous is TvTropes, but that’s best left for another article.

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