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April 21 2010

Downfall Producer And Constantin Film Partner Loves Those Hitler Parodies

The Internet meme whereby people replace the subtitles of the memorable bunker scene where Hitler throws a tantrum in the movie Der Untergang (aka Downfall) with fake translations, is one that we said would never die.

Except Constant Film, the German production company that owns the rights to the movie, is trying to kill it anyway by trying to take down the many YouTube videos showing der Führer getting furious about, well, something, anything really.

These videos are being removed because of YouTube’s automated Content ID system, which allows copyright owners to disable any videos that contain its content, whether or not the videos may be legitimate because they contain other elements.

Dumb? Yes. But also, hypocritical, it appears.

Richard Huffman recently interviewed Bernd Eichinger, writer and producer of Der Untergang and also a large sharefolder of Constantin Film as well as chairman of its supervisory board, and asked him after his opinion of the Hitler parodies.

In short: ironically, he is madly in love with them.

Richard Huffman – This is a personal, non-Baader-Meinhof question. As the writer of Downfall, the superb film about Hitler’s final days, I’m sure you’ve seen your work parodied on youtube literally hundreds of times with the various “Hitler Mash-up” videos. What do you think of those videos? If you find them at all amusing, do you have a favorite? Or are they too inappropriate?

Bernd Eichinger – 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. Hitler’s real crisis at the time was also about a gigantic real estate loss: the loss of all those territories he had conquered fuelled by false credit and driven by avarice, megalomania and extreme ruthlessness. And then history’s Down Jones came crushing down on him….I find this parody so funny because it’s historically relevant.

Tremendously amusing? Moviemaking heaven?

We agree, but Mr. Eichinger, you might want to tell some folks over at Constantin that. Because this is how we feel about those takedown notices (courtesy of EFF board member Brad Templeton):

Update: looks like the director of Downfall, Oliver Hirschbiegel, also thinks the parodies are amusing. He told New York Magazine in January 2010:

“Someone sends me the links every time there’s a new one. I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Of course, I have to put the sound down when I watch. Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I’m laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.

The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like. If only I got royalties for it, then I’d be even happier.”

So who’s behind these takedown notices? (A good analysis can be found here if you’re interested)

Thanks to Richard for sending us a link to the interview!

April 20 2010

Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies

For my money, memes on the Internet don’t get any better than the Hitler one. You know, the one in which you take some current event (the more mundane, the better) and shove it into the scene from the German film Downfall in which Hitler is told in his bunker that he cannot win the war. The key to these (assuming you don’t speak German, of course) is to replace the actual subtitles with ones of your choosing about a different topic. Facebook/FriendFeed, Twitter, MySpace — all solid gold stuff. In fact, just this past January, while reviewing the iPad version, Erick called it “the meme that will never die.” But sadly, it looks like it may in fact die, at the hands of the studio behind it.

Earlier today, someone attempted to upload a new version surrounding the massive iPhone 4G (or iPhone HD, whatever) news. Unfortunately, as you can see on YouTube, that video has already been removed with the message, “This video contains content from Constantin Film, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

Constantin Film is the German film production and distribution company behind the film Downfall (Der Untergang in German). The uploader of one of the Hilter parodies notes in the comments of his video that, “Constatin Films has filed a copyright infringement claim against this video, right before it was about to reach 500,000 views! Even though it falls under Fair Use, I suspect this video will be taken down soon. Sad face.

Sure enough, many of the other Hitler meme parodies have started disappearing as well (Hitler on Xbox Live, for example). But as of right now, there are so many out there that are subtly different enough that plenty are still up. Still, you can probably expect YouTube’s smart content system to hunt down and find all of these clips sooner rather than later. Now may be the time to appeal to Constatin Film. Downfall is a great movie, but it’s also in German which sadly means that many people outside that country will never watch it. But I’d bet these clips have sparked an interest in the film beyond what any type of traditional marketing could have done.

Mostly, I just really want to see Hitler’s reaction to the stolen iPhone 4G. Also, someone really needs to make a video about Hilter being upset that Constantin Film is DCMAing Hitler parodies.

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