Imagine you’re Taika Waititi. You’ve just made one of the most visually distinct, hilarious movies in the biggest film franchise in history. What do you do next?
Apparently, you dress up as Hitler. Because, why not?
Waititi has shared an early image of himself as Hitler for his upcoming movie, “Jojo Rabbit”, which will also star Scarlett Johansson.
The movie is set during World War II, and its titular character (real name Jojo Betzler, played by Roman Griffin Davis) is a young member of the Hitler Youth.
His head filled with Nazi propaganda, Jojo forms a bond with an imaginary friend, who is none other than Adolf Hitler himself.
A Master of Disguise
Waititi always includes himself in his movies, playing a character with a varying degree of prominence in the story.
In “What We Do in the Shadows”, Waititi is a main character, and has arguably the sweetest story arcs of anyone who isn’t a werewolf (not a swearwolf).
Then, in “The Hunt for the Wilderpeople”, Waititi plays a bit-part as a priest giving a weird, Doritos-filled eulogy at a funeral. In “Thor: Ragnarok”, Waititi is Korg, whose hatred for ghosts creates perhaps the best joke in the film.
Even so, taking on the role of Hitler is no easy feat.
Possibly the weirdest dinner I’ve ever been to. #jojorabbit #Shitler @jojorabbitmovie 📷 @kimberleyfrench
56.7k Likes, 395 Comments – Taika Waititi (@taikawaititi) on Instagram: “Possibly the weirdest dinner I’ve ever been to. #jojorabbit #Shitler @jojorabbitmovie 📷…”
Obviously, this work is a piece of satire, so Waititi won’t exactly be playing Hitler straight. That said, damn. He really looks the part.
Perhaps this speaks to the inherent cartoonishness of Adolf Hitler in the modern consciousness. Once considered one of the most charismatic and disarming men on Earth, Hitler is now nothing more than a punchline. His appearance is easy to mimic for anyone possessing a fake moustache and a tub of hair gel.
Nevertheless, I suspect that Waititi is going to do more than a simple impression. The nice thing about playing an imaginary Hitler is that Waititi can act wildly out of character and still fit within the story.
Springtime for Hitler
I wonder what direction Waititi will take with this movie. Perhaps this will be a stinging satire of modern politics, and the rise of Alt-Right movements that Waititi has been vocal in objecting to.
Alternatively, I could just as easily see this becoming a dig at organized religion, and the idea of a wise, benevolent savior figure who can be bent and shaped to fit whatever logic or viewpoint a believer might possess.
“Jojo Rabbit” is more than just a film about the challenges of a boy in the Hitler Youth. Jojo’s mother, played by Johansson, is hiding a young Jewish girl in her home in order to protect her from concentration camps.
32k Likes, 165 Comments – Taika Waititi (@taikawaititi) on Instagram: “Teaching that Avengers lady how to do biscuit acting. #jojorabbit @jojorabbitmovie”
I suspect at some point in this movie, Jojo will discover this, and turn to his imaginary friend for guidance.
When this happens, don’t be surprised if a wise message of humanitarian care and acceptance come from the mouth of Hitler.
Whatever Waititi’s up to here, it’s going to be weird.