One of the most unique contemporary filmmakers working in the film industry right now, Taika Waititi has established himself as a top talent with brilliant works like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows among others. Born in New Zealand, Waititi studied theatre at Victoria University of Wellington and started his filmmaking career by making hilarious short films for New Zealand’s annual 48-hour film contest.
His last film Jojo Rabbit, released in 2019, was a fascinating interpretation of the Second World War and the fascism of the Nazi regime. An adaptation of Christine Leunens’s 2008 book Caging Skies, the film tells the story of a young boy whose guardian angel is an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler who is played by Waititi. Described as an “anti-hate satire” by Waititi himself, Jojo Rabbit explores the problematic subject matter with refreshing humour.
In an interview, Waititi said: “I didn’t want to make some crappy saccharine film, something that just was set in World War II and just had jokes at the expense of the experiences of millions of people. You have a big responsibility when you come to making a film set in that time. I feel like if people don’t get the point of using humour to dismantle these regimes built on intolerance and hate, I’m wasting my time with the person I’m explaining it to.”
Despite its status as a loose depiction of history, Jojo Rabbit presents a troubling vision of the Hitler Youth system and how young kids were brainwashed. Waititi satirised the hypocrisies of Nazism and successfully translated the absurdity to the cinematic medium. In one of the standout scenes of the film, Waititi makes the characters on screen say “Heil Hitler” an outrageously comical 31 times in one minute in order to show just how ridiculous Nazi protocols really were.
Watch the brilliant scene from Jojo Rabbit, below.