Michael Atkinson

Revisiting the Early Days of the Nazi Comedy

By Michael Atkinson

Revisiting the Early Days of the Nazi Comedy
Exactly how popular culture has grappled with Nazism over the past 60-odd years forms a peculiar sort of curve. In films, the trajectory began with stock-villain propaganda and then evolved (in the 1950s and ’60s) toward a defensive, Jewish-comic sardonicism, which found itself capable of using the German fascism as farce. This abated in the ’80s, when it became impossible to joke about so many things, and then the impulse emerged, oddly, after the feel-good trauma of “Schindler’s List,” as comedy again, in the ’90s (“Life Is Beautiful,” etc.). By now, of course, only toll-taking documentaries and occasional sojourns into history, like “The Pianist,” can be tolerated.Read More

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