Remixed History

Perhaps this should be called “Remixed Historical Fiction,” but Hitler’s iPad rant is the first of many videos that proliferated in which English subtitles pervert the meaning of scenes from Downfall (2004), a german film about Adolph Hitler’s final days.

Certainly not a remix that disseminates an activist message, the irreverent “Hitler is informed and rants about the Apple iPad” has mostly comical impulses. First, it makes fun of the shortcomings of the then just-released Apple iPad. It saps the seriousness out of the conversation in the source material, replacing the sobering content with a trivial tantrum. It brings an anachronistic object into the period-world of the film. Most importantly, by rewriting the scene to suggest that Hitler’s rant–which in the film, actually responds to news that Germany is losing the war–is based on something as trivial as a new piece of technology, the video offers a portrayal of Hitler that suggests he is not only a dangerous tyrant, but a spoiled brat.

Interestingly, the remix relies on the pretense that the audience is English-speaking. For a German speaker, the original dialogue of the clip is not diminished by the presence of the inaccurate English subtitles.