Making History: Hitler
by Denis Minihan, Set Designer
When the subject of Hitler and the Nazi Party arises, so do questions — how did this happen and why did this happen? Using these questions of how and why, and our trusty team of 3 graphics pioneers, we made history come alive.
During the show we look at how Hitler survived the First World War, why Germany was ready to let Hitler become her leader, how the Gestapo controlled German society, how Hitler captivated the German people at Nuremberg, why the Nazis were ultimately defeated and how Hitler felt during his last days in the bunker.
Now that’s a lot to pack into one programme and on top of that we brought Hitler and the Nazi Party back to life! But don’t worry — we used computer graphics.
From the young Hitler dodging shells in a First World War trench, to him giving a fiery speech to a packed Nuremberg rally our graphics boys brought Hitler back to the main stage. The thud of jaws hitting the floor were all that could be heard after the production team saw the final product.
Our recreation of Hitler’s speech at Nuremberg gives a view from right behind Hitler’s head as he roars at the huge assembled crowd. You see the sweat drip from his face as he becomes more frantic while the crowd chant and salute below. For me it sums up the approach we took for the Making History series, it’s history but being shown to us from an entirely new angle.
Video Preview: “Hitler’s Mannerisms” — Graphic artists re-create history the cameras didn’t catch during Hitler’s infamous Nuremberg speech.
That was pretty frightening. Our actor Phil, has just delivered a spine chilling speech as Hitler. Everyone is visibly shaken. He’s completely nailed it and it’s very creepy. I plan to stay out of his way for the rest of the day. The graphics boys have been milling about in Nazi uniforms all day sheepishly perfecting their salutes — I advised Neil to change before he pops out for lunch.
Today we’re in a warehouse unit in Derry filming the Gestapo scenes. A rule of thumb on these shoots is that if you’re on the set, at some point you’re going to be an extra — everybody pitches in. I try to comfort myself with this thought as Neil grabs me by the hair and dangles me over an old rusty bath. I know it was supposed to be a torture scene but he was taking way too much pleasure out of it. We all had to film our scenes staying completely still to try and get a Matrix-style effect for a zillionth of the price. It all went surprisingly well.
Back early this morning in the warehouse to film Hitler’s last days in the bunker. Actor Phil as The Fuhrer has been stalking around all day in full military costume complete with hat, long leather jacket and cane. Every time I spot him in the corner of my eye it’s quite disconcerting. The crew’s camera phones have been clicking all day and even I took a picture when I noticed him chomping on a salad wrap and flicking through a music magazine during lunch.
In Germany — we’ve seen the horror of the Gestapo Headquarters in Cologne and the mystery of the deserted rally grounds in Nuremberg. The historian’s interviews have been going great and we have some really exciting information for the show.
But today we had a mortifying moment. While passing through Munich airport our bags were checked by airport staff and a Nazi armband (that we had used as a prop) was discovered in one of the crew’s bags. It was panic stations all around as we desperately tried to explain in our limited German that we were making a documentary. Thanks to the patience and understanding of the staff they let us through. Another story to tell the grandkids… or perhaps not.
Video Preview: “Hitler’s Death” — High tech movie techniques are used to re-create what might have been on Hitler’s mind moments before his death.
Witness the rise and fall of the 20th century’s greatest villain in Making History “Hitler“ premiering October 5th at 9P et/pt.