Actors: Gene Hitler, Romano Hitler, Emily Hittler
Director: Matthew Ogens
Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Region: Region 1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Virgil Films and Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 5, 2016
Run Time: 84 minutes
Meet the Hitlers is a seemingly narrow documentary about people with the name Hitler, and how it has impacted their lives. Although I found the premise for this documentary intriguing, I was concerned that there would not be enough material to hold my attention for an entire feature. This problem is helped a great deal by adding a secondary story about the investigation into Hitler’s actual bloodline, but the greater solution comes in the filmmaker’s ability to make this a film about the people rather than their name, which also seems to align with the overall message within the narrative.
Gene Hitler is a friendly widow, Emily Hittler is an average high school girl, and Hitler Gutierrez is an Ecuadorian immigrant whose father took what he thought to be an original name from the front pages of the newspaper. They each have lived with their name, knowing that it will always create something of a reaction but choosing to keep it anyway. There is a certain amount of nobility in this choice, whereas Heath and Deborah Campbell choosing to name their child Adolf Hitler Campbell is a far harder pill to swallow. Their argument about freedom of speech is certainly valid, but it is difficult to take the side of someone who would willingly subject their child to that name. To make matters worse, I’m nearly certain one of their other children was named Aryan Nation Campbell before the courts interceded.
On the other side of this documentary is an investigation into the actual relatives of the infamous dictator, most of which have long changed their names. When descendants are tracked down in the
, they refuse to be
interviewed for the documentary, leading to something of a dead-end. Or does
it? What would they have offered in an interview that we can’t already imagine
them saying. Somehow we like to imagine the descendants of a monster to carry
some of those traits, but the one man claiming to be a descendant of Hitler who
is interviewed mostly just comes off as extremely human, deserving of pity and
compassion regardless of his shortcomings and certainly despite his name. United States
I was moved by this documentary, found myself captivated by these individuals as they shared aspects of their lives, seemingly disconnected from whatever their names are. I think the message very subtly delivered with respectful precision by filmmaker Matt Ogens (Confessions of a Superhero), never trying to push an agenda or a message within the examination of its ideas. In the end, a name can only tell you so much about a person, and the best way to show us that is simply by allowing us to see more of those people who may be often unfairly judged for their name alone.
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10
Historical Significance: 5/10