THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELEINE MCCANN. (2019) A NETFLIX CRIME DOCUSERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELEINE MCCANN: A NETFLIX SERIES. (2019)
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I would well believe that this was the most reported-on missing persons case ever, as it is claimed to be. Blonde-haired British Madeleine, aged nearly four, went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve area of Portugal, in May 2007, making this probably the most reported-on family vacation of all time to boot.

Her two-year-old siblings, Sean and Amelie, were asleep nearby at the time. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, both doctors and practising Roman Catholics- I don’t know what that’s got to do with anything either!- were absent from the apartment at the time.

They were having a boozy holiday dinner in a so-called ‘nearby’ tapas restaurant, but I saw the map of that restaurant in relation to the apartment where the children were sleeping, unsupervised. It may be many things, people, but I would never have deemed it to be ‘nearby.’

I’m probably not the only person who would frown on the notion of leaving kids alone while the parents go out for the night, and for doing this exact thing, the McCanns probably lost a fair amount of public sympathy.

But it seems to have been common enough practice in this resort, even though the resort provided both a babysitting service and a night creche. Why would you not just use one of these, and be safe rather than sorry? Still, it’s easy to be wise in hindsight, and it’s even easier to judge the actions of others.

The ‘Tapas Seven,’ as they are known, all friends of the McCanns’ who dined together on that fateful night, maintain that they were all running back and forth from the restaurant all night checking on the kids, but, when Kate went to do her own checks around ten o’clock, Madeleine was gone from her room, the only clue to her disappearance an open window…

That’s when everything goes a bit mad. I hope it’s not a ‘spoiler’ to say that this excellent and thorough documentary series doesn’t hold the answers to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Madeleine has never been found, alive or dead, and people today are probably no nearer to finding out what happened to her than they were back in 2007.

What the eight episodes do is just collate all the information available on the case and dole them out to us in fifty-minute bursts. It looks extensively at the night of the disappearance, and the actions of the McCanns and the Portuguese police shortly afterwards, when, apparently, a lot of time was wasted and opportunities to find the child were botched or overlooked at first on the part of the police. There are so many theories about what might have happened to Britain’s best-known little missing person.

Did the McCanns, both doctors and Kate a qualified anaesthetist, accidentally over-sedate the child to make sure she slept while they were out for the evening, and then stage an abduction to cover it up? We see a journalist asking the McCanns if they dosed the child up on Calpol before heading out for the night, to which they reply in the negative.

One fact in favour of this ‘over-sedation’ theory seems to be the fact that Sean and Amelie, the two younger McCanns, themselves slept all the way through the furore that was the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the disappearance. On the other hand, if this theory is correct, where is the body? How was it made away with so successfully that it was never discovered?

Did an opportunistic paedophile take Madeleine, someone who perhaps knew that the kids would be alone that night while the parents dined out? Was she stolen to order by someone who really wanted a child of their own and couldn’t have one in the usual way? If this was the case, I wonder how the new ‘parents’ of a stolen child could ever hope to be happy with their new little daughter, knowing that their happiness was entirely based on another family’s misery.

Was she snatched by an international paedophile ring? Men were apparently seen hanging around the apartment and the little resort town around the time of the disappearance. They may have been something to do with it, or they may not have been. It’s as simple, and as complex, as that.

According to one of the private detectives the McCanns hired further down the road- I mean time-wise, not geographically!- there are ‘dark’ parts of the Internet where paedophiles can go and say what they’re ‘into’ and be supplied with it. That poor detective really looked like he had seen some things that he wished he could un-see, if you know what I mean, but some things, once seen… Well, you know yourself.

We hear from two men who were considered suspects by the police at one time, but no longer: Robert Murat, an English chap living in Portugal, and Sergey Malinka, a young Russian computer expert who had once done some work on a website for Murat.

We see what happens when the McCanns are named as ‘arguidos,’ or suspicious persons, themselves for a while by the Portuguese police, and how upsetting this was for the couple, because, as they said themselves, if the police thought the McCanns had done something to Madeleine, then they weren’t out looking for the ‘real’ culprit.

There were hundreds of sightings of little blonde girl children all over Europe after the disappearance, and those all had to be looked into. We hear from the double-glazing millionaire and his son who felt pity for the McCanns and involved themselves in the case, helping with some of the sightings. I didn’t care for either of these two lads. They seemed a bit, I don’t know, entitled or something, to me. Like, okay, we have money so we’ll conduct this investigation however we want. I didn’t really dig them.

We hear from Justine McGuinness, the McCanns’ first PR person, and Gonzalo Amaral, the detective who first worked on the case in Portugal and ultimately wrote a book about it. We hear from friends of the McCanns, who have nothing but sympathy for the couple, and we see loads of footage of the McCanns talking to the press, Kate clutching Madeleine’s favourite toy, Cuddle Cat, all the while.

We also hear from some people who have the temerity to suggest that other kids go missing too, but not all of them get the money and publicity thrown at them that the Madeleine McCann case was able to avail of. Hundreds of kids world-wide go missing every year. Anyone who actively looks to re-unite them with their parents is a hero in my book.

The weirdest thing of all about this baffling disappearance- well, one of them!- is that Madeleine would be eighteen years old now if she was still alive, which, hopefully, she might be. Maybe someone took her who then brought her up with kindness and care. It’s not outside the bounds of possibility.

For the public though, she’s frozen in time, like a fly in amber, as that cute little blonde four-year-old with the happy smile and that distinctive dark strip on the iris of her left eye. It’s one of the iconic images of the twenty-first century. Let’s hope that, one day, we find out the truth about what happened to her.     

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY. (2000) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY. (2000) A TV SPECIAL DIRECTED BY WILL YAPP. WRITTEN BY LOUIS THEROUX. FEATURING LOUIS THEROUX AND JIMMY SAVILE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Louis Theroux spends a week with the eccentric broadcaster and charity fundraiser Sir Jimmy Savile and attempts to get behind the public persona.’

I recently watched and reviewed LOUIS THEROUX: SAVILE. As it referenced WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY several times, and as the later film was a kind of reaction by the documentary-maker Theroux to the flood of accusations of sexual abuse that emerged after Savile’s death in 2011, I decided that I needed to watch the 2000 film also. Now, they seem to fit together perfectly as a sort of Louis Theroux’s before-and-after take on the Jimmy Savile story, so watch them together if you can.

As the blurb says, the talented young film-maker Louis Theroux spends a week in Savile’s company as the now-disgraced TV star Jimmy Savile supposedly goes about his everyday business.

This includes going to the launch of a charity cruise aboard the ship CARONIA, going to a restaurant where everybody knows Savile and visiting Savile’s holiday home in the Scottish Highlands, where the former DJ accidentally breaks an ankle during a spot of mountaineering.

More interesting than the changing locations- though the Scottish Highlands are gorgeous- is the dynamic between the young film-maker and the crabbed old TV star who was well on his way to being all washed-up in the year 2000. I wonder if he was aware of this, or if he actually still thought he was da bomb.

We were right on the cusp of the reality TV/Big Brother/Pop Idols and X Factor/social media era back then, and the kids only wanted to see young, attractive-looking people on their screens, people like Cheryl Cole, Davina McCall, Rihanna, Beyonce, Shayne Ward and Nicole Sherzinger, not a withered old has-been with an abrasive manner and a mother fixation to rival Norman Bates’s.

(Did Louis look remotely comfortable about sleeping alone in ‘the Duchess’s’ neatly preserved bed? Did ‘e ‘eck as like, as Vera Duckworth might have said. (The actress Liz Dawn is seen briefly attending the launch of the charity cruise.) I wouldn’t sleep in it myself, that’s for sure. Not that I’m ever likely to be invited.)

What’s extraordinary about this film is the horrible manner Savile displays towards Louis and his questions. Jimmy was using his patter to deflect my questions, the broadcaster says at one point, and he’s right.

Savile is always ‘on,’ always talking shite at top speed, always bullshitting, always cracking bad jokes, showing off or dispensing useless pieces of ‘homespun wisdom’ on how Louis might ‘improve’ his interview technique.

There’s nothing wrong with Louis Theroux’s interview technique. It’s Savile’s inherent inability to answer a straight question with a straight answer that’s the problem here. He’s impossible to pin down.

He bites Louis’ head off for questioning a cache of booze he finds in the supposed teetotaller’s flat. He constantly evades the question of romance by saying that women give him ‘brain damage,’ and that’s why he never married or had a steady girlfriend, allegedly.

When he hurts his foot in the Scottish Highlands, he phones the local papers to film him having his plaster put on in the local hospital. What a narcissist. Louis points out that, when a normal person has an accident, they phone for friends or family to come. Jimmy Savile phones the media.

Obviously, he was desperate to keep his face and name in the papers. Maybe he was aware after all that his star, luminescent for so many years in the world of TV and radio, not to mention his charity fundraising, was finally beginning to lose its glow.

I can get anything, me, Savile tells Louis mysteriously at one point, when Louis wonders aloud how his ex-directory address and phone number have ended up in Savile’s address book. It’s because I didn’t know who you were, so it’s just in case I had to send any Sicilian gentlemen around to have a little chat with you, Savile adds, or words to that general effect.

Savile is caught unawares at one point, telling the cameraman after Louis has gone to bed all about how he used to treat messers at his clubs, back when he used to run nightclubs in Leeds in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

There’s talk of tying guys up in the club basements till the club was shut, and, even though Savile doesn’t mention giving them a few digs before sending them on their way, I personally feel like it might be implied.

When Louis later quizzes him about this, Savile backtracks and says it was all ‘only a figure of speech,’ like when you say to someone, I’ll kill you for doing that! Figure of speech my ass.

I invented zero tolerance, me, boasts the white-haired former celebrity at one point. Sadly, his victims were usually too young and vulnerable to implement the ‘zero tolerance’ policy against Savile himself, who would have needed it applied against him more than most.

Theroux manages to squeeze in a couple of questions about the all-important paedophilia issue. Is he or is he not a paedophile? He might be or he might not be, how would anyone ever know, Savile says in reply. He knows he’s not, and that’s all that counts.

But he tells the press that he ‘hates children,’ he confides next, and that’s how you put the more ‘salacious’ members of the press ‘off the scent,’ you see. Well, that doesn’t sound dodgy at all, does it, folks? Then Savile yawns a huge fake yawn as if to say, subject closed…

Here are some words I’d use to describe Savile’s personality after watching this film. Prickly. Hostile. Aggressive. Passive-aggressive. Arrogant. Secretive. Evasive. Entitled. Privileged. An abuser of his power. A nasty piece of work. Defensive. Obnoxious. Volatile. Odious. Creepy. Someone who could turn nasty in a flash. Show-off. Show-boater. Grand-stander. Menacing. Threatening. A boaster. A bully. Always ‘on.’ Over-confident. Considers himself ‘untouchable.’ They’re not nice words, are they?

If even a grown man like Louis Theroux could feel a bit on edge around this man, and sense the aura of power and privilege that still emanates from him, and Louis is a big powerful-looking bloke, then how rail-roaded into having sexual relations with Savile must those innocent youngsters he abused have felt? It hardly bears thinking about.

I have only one further observation. Watching this documentary made me feel uncomfortable, not only because of what we now know about Savile, but also because the two men don’t really seem to be the friends they claim they were after this film was made.

Louis himself admits he found Savile ‘irritating,’ which I can fully understand, and Savile seems to completely resent the intrusion into his private life, even though he gave his consent for the film to be made. Try to watch this fascinating documentary if you can. If you’re a psychologist, even just an armchair one, or an interpreter of body language, you’ll have a bloody field day.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

GHISLAINE MAXWELL: EPSTEIN’S SHADOW. (2021) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


GHISLAINE MAXWELL: EPSTEIN’S SHADOW. (2021) A 3-PART DOCUMENTARY SERIES DIRECTED BY BARBARA SHEARER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. This story has it all. Tragic beginnings in Hitler’s Holocaust, two ridiculously wealthy and powerful self-made men dying in questionable circumstances, and the dramatic fall from grace of the beautiful, well-connected socialite who had been the right-hand woman to each of the two. I was glued to this utterly gripping ‘true crime’ documentary from start to finish.

Ghislaine Maxwell, now aged 59, is the woman in question. Her father, Robert Maxwell, most of whose family died in Auschwitz, was a sort of real-life Citizen Kane, a newspaper/publishing magnate who didn’t get to where he was in life by being a pushover. A polite way of saying that he completely lacked a working moral compass, according to some of the people who’d known him.

Ghislaine, the youngest of his nine children, was his pet, his princess, and, in later years, his social ambassador and the woman he preferred over his wife Betty to have on his arm at social functions.

Betty was, seemingly, a rather nondescript wife and mother who never stepped in to protect her children from their notoriously bullying father’s wrath. But no matter, Ghislaine was his everything, and he was hers.

Ghislaine, we’re told, lived the high life during her father’s ‘reign’ in a way we peasants couldn’t even begin to imagine. ‘Champagne lifestyle’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. Luxury yachts, private jets, holidays all over the world, clothes, jewellery, an address book stuffed with rich and powerful connections, you name it, she had it.

That particular era of her life came to an end when her almost universally loathed father was mysteriously found dead, floating in the Atlantic ocean near his yacht, the ‘Lady Ghislaine,’ in November of 1991.

Much is made in the documentary of the fact that when Ghislaine arrived at the yacht after the news of the death broke, she immediately started ‘shredding documents,’ supposedly related to Daddy’s ‘shady’ business dealings…

Maxwell’s publishing empire collapsed after his death. His name was utterly disgraced and blackened when it was discovered that he’d stolen millions of pounds from his own company’s pension funds to save himself from bankruptcy.

In the documentary, Ghislaine, a proper Daddy’s Girl if ever there was one, looks visibly shaken at his funeral in Jerusalem, but don’t worry, folks, she doesn’t remain down in the mouth for long.

She goes to live in New York and re-invents herself there, with the money from her trust fund (eighty grand a year), as a glittering socialite. Not exactly a huge leap for the woman of whom it is said in the film that, when she was greeting and air-kissing you at a party, she’d be busy looking over your shoulder for someone richer, more powerful, more influential than you. Nice lady, huh?

She hooked up with dodgy financier Jeffrey Epstein around this time. Some people maintain that she’d known him since the late ‘80s when she was introduced to him by her father in London, while most people seem to think she met him in the early ‘90s in America. It probably doesn’t really matter when she met him. What matters is what they became to each other…

Ghislaine quickly became a number of things to Epstein. Varying reports describe her as being everything from his Girl Friday, housekeeper and administrative assistant to his glamorous girlfriend, his entrée to social circles he might otherwise have been denied and his sort-of-wife.

He’s described her himself, rather unflatteringly, I think, as his ‘best friend,’ and, knowing what we now know about Epstein’s predilections for sex with teenage girls as young as fourteen, I’m not even convinced that they had a proper man-woman sexual relationship. He mightn’t have even been capable of such a thing.

It seems to be generally accepted now that Ghislaine procured underage girls for sex with Epstein and a ‘ring’ of his rich, powerful male friends. The private plane that flew girls to his idyllic island hideaway, nicknamed ‘Paedophile Island,’ was itself dubbed ‘the Lolita Express’ by the local Virgin Islanders.

Jeffrey had an insatiable sexual appetite, it seems, and at least three young girls a day were required to give him the infamous ‘massages’ that ended in sex, or in his ‘pleasuring’ himself in their presence. Eeuw, seriously.

When the girls left his fabulous 71st Street Manhattan apartment in tears, Ghislaine would explain to their ‘door-lady’ Maria Farmer, herself a victim of the pair, that they’d failed an audition to model for Victoria’s Secret, a company with which Jeffrey was connected through his billionaire mentor, Leslie Wexner.

It’s mentioned in the documentary that Ghislaine often had to hang around school gates in order to recruit these girls. She apparently targeted girls who didn’t look ‘rich,’ because rich girls had nannies and au pairs and were picked up by chauffeurs and had people who checked up on them and what-have-you. Poor or working-class girls, not so much.

This fact is extremely significant. If these girls had been rich or connected, the authorities might have worked a little harder to put Jeffrey Epstein behind bars when reports of assaults and sexual irregularities began to trickle through to them. Maria Farmer, an artist, is extremely articulate, presentable and likeable, and, in the film, her frustration with law enforcement comes through loud and clear.

Money talks, and we all know it. Money is what ‘saved’ Jeffrey Epstein from the worst effects of the first tranche of allegations against him in the ‘Noughties. It didn’t save him, however, from a lonely ‘suicide by hanging’ in a prison cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in August, 2019. There are reasons to suggest he died under questionable circumstances, but we, the reading public, are unlikely to ever be privy to the real truth.

Ghislaine languishes now in a Brooklyn prison cell, awaiting trial on charges relating to the sex trafficking of minors. The trial is set for this November and she’s denying all the charges. Her lawyers will probably try to use an immunity-for-Ghislaine clause in the Jeffrey Epstein ‘sweetheart deal’ of the late ‘Noughties to get her off.

Failing that, they’ll probably claim that she was as much a victim of Epstein’s depravity as the girls he raped. That would be so hard for the victims to bear. I feel sure they’re dreading the prospect of Ghislaine slithering off the hook like, in a way, Jeffrey Epstein did, by utilising the ultimate cop-out of suicide.

The film makes much of the fact that Ghislaine went from the arms of one uber-powerful alpha male, i.e., her dad, to another such man, Jeffrey Epstein. Does the fact that this is the kind of man she gravitates to excuse her behaviour? I doubt if the victims would think so, but it’s almost a certainty that her lawyers will bring this up at trial and try to make it count for something.

Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew are all pictured with Ghislaine and Jeffrey in the documentary, in the photos we’ve come to know so well by now. After the photo of him with the underaged Virginia Roberts Giuffre went public around the world, Prince Andrew tried to rescue his reputation in that disastrous television interview of late 2019, but even Lady Victoria Hervey, one of Ghislaine’s former friends, thinks he’d have been better off keeping his trap shut.

So, what will happen to Daddy’s Little Princess, who once said of the victims, ‘These girls, they’re nothing,’ in her trial of November, 2021? How will the story of Ghislaine Maxwell eventually pan out? Will there even be a trial?

Will her lawyers get her off on a technicality, or through a spectacular loophole that we haven’t even thought of yet? Will justice be done, or will money kick justice’s arse yet again? One thing’s for sure. We’ll all be watching…  

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. (1935) ‘THE BANNED MASTERPIECE OF NAZI CINEMA’ REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hitler leni

LENI RIEFENSTAHL’S ‘TRIUMPH OF THE WILL’ OR ‘TRIUMPH DES WILLENS.’ (1935)

‘THE BANNED MASTERPIECE OF NAZI CINEMA’ REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘A devastatingly brilliant piece of film-making.’

HALLIWELL’S FILM GUIDE.

‘Technically brilliant.’

TIME OUT FILM GUIDE.

‘The Party is Hitler—and Hitler is Germany just as Germany is Hitler!’ Rudolf Hess.

‘It is our will that this state and this Reich shall endure through the coming millennia.’ Adolf Hitler.

‘As soon as our own propaganda admits so much as a glimmer of right on the other side, the foundation for doubt in our own right has been laid.’ Adolf Hitler.

We want to be a united nation, and you, my youth, are to become this nation. In the future, we do not wish to see classes and castes, and you must not allow them to develop among you. One day, we want to see one nation.’ Adolf Hitler.

‘The concept of labor will no longer be a dividing one but a uniting one, and no longer will there be anybody in Germany who will regard manual labor any less highly than any other form of labor.’ Adolf Hitler.

This is a much-praised and much-lauded piece of film-making, although you’ll find that its fans are quick to point out that their praise is all for the technical aspects of the film only.

Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s pet movie director- Hitler was a big movie fan- has certainly made a fantastic documentary, and all without benefit of much of the modern film-making paraphernalia of today which might possibly have made her mammoth task a bit easier.

On the other hand, critics are reluctant to praise the content of the movie for fear of appearing to be a Nazi sympathiser, so as I’ve said the critiques mostly just praise the lady’s undoubtedly superior technical prowess and nothing else.

The film is Ms. Riefenstahl’s record of the Nazi Party’s 1934 Nuremberg Rally or their ‘sixth Party Congress,’ as it’s referred to by Hitler in the film. As an exercise in film-making, it seems to have no equal, being regarded as one of the most outstanding documentaries ever made.

As an exercise in Nazi Party propaganda, however, it was never surpassed, not even by Leni Riefenstahl’s own film record of the 1936 Olympic Games, which were held in Berlin and which she immortalised in her two-years-in-the-making 1938 movie ‘Olympia.’

Never mind all the hype for now, though. I’m happy to just tell you what’s in the damn film, lol, just in case other reviewers confine themselves to going into transports of ecstasy about things like montage, camera angles and light, things which I confess I find a little boring myself. As a reviewer, I’m mainly interested in the more human element of things.

She first shows us Hitler’s plane in motion above the clouds en route to Nuremberg and, I must say, I do wonder how she managed to capture such fabulous images of life-above-the-clouds.

Hitler was the first leader of a country to travel from place to place within his country by aeroplane, a fact which already imbued him slightly with godlike-status. She knew what she was doing, this dame, filming him descending from the clouds like Zeus on a thunderbolt!

We then see Hitler travelling by open-topped car through the city of Nuremberg which, after the war, became home to the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, the exact opposite of a Party propaganda rally, if you like. For now, however, the city resounds to the heavens with cheers as Germany’s ‘saviour’ stands ramrod-straight in his open-topped car to greet his people.

The undisguised joy on the faces of the cheering crowds has to be seen to be believed. Right arms extended in the Nazi Party salute, men, women children and even babies are thrilled beyond words to catch a glimpse of their idol.

They carpet his path with flowers and reach out to touch him as if he’s Elvis Presley on tour or something. Housewives and young women look like they’re getting ready to fling their flannel drawers at him, which is kind of hilarious. A less likely-looking matinee idol would be hard to find.

We see some lovely aerial views of Nuremberg, which must have been a very beautiful city back then with its gorgeous old buildings and cathedral spires. Then we’re treated to the sight of probably hundreds of thousands of young shirtless Aryan males camping out waiting for the rally to begin.

They engage in healthy open-air Aryan pursuits such as wrestling and athletic-type games while they wait. Could they be any blonder or more healthily, aggressively Aryan? I doubt it, lol. Hitler would certainly approve.

There’s a huge amount of marching in formation in the film. If there was one thing the Nazis knew how to do well, it was marching in formation. Always a useful skill when you’re setting out to establish your One Thousand Year Reich.

The SA (Sturmabteilung)- The Night Of The Long Knives had already happened by then- and the SS (Schutzstaffel) are in evidence during the marches and there are thousands upon thousands of standard bearers of Nazi emblems and flags with swastikas on them, marching, marching, interminably marching. 

The Wehrmacht- the German military- are in there somewhere too. It must have been a golden age of lucrative industry for the manufacturers of swastika flags and other Nazi Party memorabilia. Exit through the gift shop much…

The marchers goose-step past the watching Hitler with their arms extended and heads turned to the right to see their Fuhrer. That kind of thing, doing three or four contradictory movements at once, is hard to do. They look like machines marching in unison, especially with their legs going a mile a minute like that like something out of a cartoon.

When the speeches get underway, Hitler’s toady Rudolf Hess, who later disgraced himself by flying off to Scotland without Hitler’s permish to try to broker a peace between the Reich and Britain, introduces Hitler with lots of lavish, nonsense clichés such as ‘Germany is Hitler and Hitler is Germany.’

Very, erm, intense, Hess, you smirking jackass you. He leads the crowd in a rapturous chorus of ‘Sieg heils!’ so loud that it probably woke God himself up from his nap. I’d describe the toadying Hess as being the Wayland Smithers to Hitler’s Mr. Burns, except that that would be an insult to the characters from THE SIMPSONS that we know and love.

Hitler talks at great length about Germany’s youth and how they’re the future of Germany. That was true at any rate, I suppose. Thousands of these ‘Jugend’ obligingly cheer back at him with the terrifying light of fanaticism in their eyes.

‘We want to be a united nation, and you, my youth, are to become this nation. In the future, we do not wish to see classes and castes, and you must not allow them to develop among you. One day, we want to see one nation.’

Then he goes on to talk about how no-one belongs to the Reich who is not prepared to work their asses off for said Reich, doing jobs such as farming the land and building the Autobahns.

Cue a couple of hundred young men wielding shovels, all echoing his words back at him with adoration and ferocity. The rallies wouldn’t have done the shovel industry any harm at all, either. How fast can you deliver one million shiny new shovels, please?

Party luminaries such as the trench-coated Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and the portly Hermann Goering all get up to say a few words (or cupla focal as we say in Irish), but it’s mainly Hitler talking, banging on for hours while not seeming to say very much, if you know what I mean. He was really, really good at that.

He says generalised rubbish like ‘Germany is behind us, Germany is before us, Germany is beneath us,’ but I bet if you asked him if he had an actual plan of action for any specific problem that needed fixing or issue that needed addressing, he’d have said: ‘A plan? Oh dear me, no, who needs a plan when you have rhetoric, tons and tons of rhetoric?’

In many cases, Hitler left it to his staff to come up with the plans of action to carry out his wishes. Look, for example, at the way he left it largely to the odious little bespectacled Himmler, pictured here in the film in his long black overcoat, to work out the details of the Final Solution.

Infamous Jew-hater Julius Streicher gets his spoke in here too, by the way: ‘A people that does not protect its racial purity will perish.’ Leni Riefenstahl declared after the war that she was unaware of Hitler’s ‘genocidal’ or ‘anti-Semitic’ policies. I ain’t sayin’ nuthin.’

The rally looks spectacular at night, with the torchlight parades and processions, the fireworks lighting up the blackness of the night sky, the always rousing drumbeats and stirring music and the artificial mist-machines making the place look mystical and shrouded in mystery and glamour. The 1934 Nazi Party rally passed into mythology largely due to Riefenstahl’s superb camera-work. Amazing what you can do with a bit of smoke and mirrors.

You’d be hugely attracted to it all if you didn’t know about the worm that sat at the heart of the Third Reich’s inwardly rotten apple, devouring it from the inside. Movietone News would broadcast footage of this and other Nazi Party Rallies around the world.

The ones featuring clear evidence of Germany’s total re-armament- the tanks and the planes of the Luftwaffe- must have been terrifying for England and the other countries worried by the rise of Nazism.

There were limitations placed on Germany’s army, navy and air-force in the Versailles Treaty of post-World War One Europe, but Hitler pretty much tore that up. He was a law unto himself, that fella. I don’t know why we even bothered having a Versailles Treaty if Hitler was just going to use it to wipe his backside on.

Well anyway, we know how the story ends, don’t we? Hitler was only in power from 1933 to 1945, a mere twelve years in the scheme of things, but he and his precious Party managed to do quite a lot of damage in this short time, with their concentration camps and their plots to wipe out the Russians and wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. Certainly there were six million Jews who never lived to see the post-war Europe. That’s Hitler’s real legacy, but hey, thanks to one Leni Riefenstahl, he’s got this amazing film too.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL. (2016) A DOCUMENTARY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hitler rise and fall

HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL: THE MAN BEHIND THE MONSTER. (2016) A DOCUMENTARY BY STAN GRIFFIN. NARRATED BY CHRISTIEN ANHOLT. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It took me two nights to watch all two-hundred-and-seventy-eight minutes of this gripping documentary, which amounted to three episodes a night at forty-five minutes each. This was surprisingly manageable, especially as it was the weekend and I was bloody well due a little me-time, lol.

Anyway, the documentary does exactly what it says on the tin, charting Adolf Hitler’s life and- ahem- life’s work from his relatively humble beginnings to his meteoric rise to become ruler of Germany and the Nazi Party, before, well, you know. The war and stuff. All the stuff he did. You know what I mean. We’re not supposed to mention it…

Various Professors of History and assorted academics who’ve nearly all written books on Hitler sit around chatting to camera about what they’ve learned about Hitler over the years and, coupled with the little dramatisations and recreations with actors and actresses going on in the background, it all actually makes for rather thrilling viewing. Here for your delectation is my own interpretation of the facts as presented by HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL. A sort of ‘HITLER FOR DUMMIES,’ if you will.

Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria-Hungary to a civil servant father who brutalised him physically and whom Hitler despised utterly, and a mother who worshipped him but understandably couldn’t protect him from his father’s wrath.

When Alois Hitler- the Dad- passed away in 1903, I doubt if Hitler shed many tears, unlike at the death of his mother four years later, which devastated him. It was the first major blow of his life. Probably the next one was when he was rejected for Art School in Vienna.

Apparently he wasn’t good at drawing people, but wasn’t bad at all at sketching buildings. In fact, he had a lifelong obsession with architecture and was always dreaming up ideas for fabulous buildings and town centres in his mind.

During his last days in the Bunker, while Berlin burned around him and the Russians were within shelling distance of the Reich Chancellery, instead of making plans to save himself and his entourage or to broker a peace deal with the Allies, Hitler fiddled endlessly with a scale model of a town plan of Linz in Austria, which he planned to turn into a cultural capital ‘after the war.’ I wonder when was the exact moment at which he finally realised that there would be no ‘after the war’ for him and his Party…?

Anyway, his special talent was really for public speaking. Boy, could he talk. He could- and did- talk for Germany. After World War One, in which he rather startlingly won an Iron Cross for ‘bravery’ (I always think of him as a bit cowardly, actually), he turned to politics. His early days in the Nazi Party saw him cutting his oratorial teeth on the speeches he made to admiring Party members.

He started to develop his anti-Semitic views around this time and was a real asset to the Nazi Party, which by the way he didn’t ‘found’ but he did join it very early on, when it was still in its infancy.

There’s a disturbing image for you anyway, the Nazi Party as a chubby baby complete with rattle and bonnet being wheeled round the park in an antique stroller by a uniformed Nanny. ‘Take me once round the park, Smithers, I’m feeling fussy…!’

The failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 came next, in which Hitler and his pals, including General Ludendorff from WW1, sought to stage a coup that would ultimately challenge the government in Berlin. Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in the Putsch but served only one, getting out early for, ‘of all things, good behaviour…!’

During his time in Landsberg Prison, Hitler dictated his autobiography, MEIN KAMPF, to his adoring deputy Rudolf Hess. I said dictated, not dedicated, lol. I don’t know if the book ever had the benefit of proper editing but most historians agree that it’s a major snooze.

He waffles a lot in it about his ideas on race and suchlike. They’re not at all what you’d call liberal. Some form of ethnic cleansing is implied. It’s seemingly badly written and a crashing bore, but essential reading, the experts claim, if you want to understand where he got his nutty ideas from or the ‘reasoning’ behind them. I did take it out of the library once, but the endless blocks of dry-as-dust, unbroken-up text made me return it soon after, unread.

After Hitler’s early release from prison, he began work on rebuilding the Nazi Party, which had stood by him throughout his, by all accounts, reasonably cushy incarceration. (There were flowers on the table in that prison cell, ffs…!) It was the Great Depression of 1929 that proved to be the key to Hitler’s later success.

With America demanding back the money they’d loaned Germany to get back on her feet after the punitive terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was in trouble financially and ripe for some political agitation from Hitler and the Nazi Party.

A stable, healthy German economy was no use to Hitler. But the recession that followed the Crash of ’29 was the perfect environment for the Nazis to flourish, and flourish they did, by promising the German people the only two things they cared about at this time, ‘ARBEIT UND BROT,’ or ‘WORK AND BREAD.’ They even delivered on their promises sometimes.

The elections of 1932 saw Hitler coming second only to Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934), the elderly President of Germany, who died a mere two years later. Hitler was now becoming established as a political force to be reckoned with.

1933 was even better for Hitler, the funny little man with the toothbrush moustache, poor table manners and queer sense of sartorial style (the top hat and dog whip, seriously?).

He became Chancellor of Germany and, with the aforementioned death of the old President Hindenburg in 1934, Hitler made himself President as well as Chancellor and fixed things so that he couldn’t be removed from office. Dictatorship, anyone?

A lot of stuff happened between 1933 and the start of World War Two that we’ll try to get through quickly. Punitive laws were enforced against the Jews, coming to an explosive head- but by no means ending- on Kristallnacht or The Night Of Broken Glass (November 1938)during which Jewish shops were trashed and their synagogues burned.

In the Irish Jewish Museum here in Dublin, just as a matter of interest, they have on display a piece of a religious scroll saved from a burning synagogue on this terrible night. Hitler was apparently annoyed by the damage to some of Germany’s lovely old buildings during Kristallnacht. Oh dear. How careless of those naughty marauders to damage the buildings.

The Nazi Party brushed Germany’s racial ‘issues’ under the carpet for the duration of the 1936 Olympic Games, which were held in Berlin. Film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, who also incidentally filmed the Olympics, made a movie called TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, about one of the gigantic Nuremberg rallies, that captured all the terrifying glamour and spectacle so beloved of the Nazis. Hitler is represented as a god in this film, literally descending from the clouds in his little aeroplane, the first leader of a country to ever use air travel to his benefit.

During this period also, from 1933 to 1939, ‘enemies’ of the Nazi Party (like the chap who protested that his livelihood had been torn down to make way for lavish extensions to the Berghof, Hitler’s fabulous mountain retreat) were being sent to concentration camps, which already existed. Inmates taken there were supposed to undergo a sort of ‘re-nazification.’ Like the ‘re-Neducation’ in that TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode of THE SIMPSONS but, like, a million times less fun, obviously.

The dreaded camps were not yet the killing machines some of them ended up being later on when the ‘Final Solution,’ the extermination of the Jews, was properly underway. For now, they were mostly for communists and people who opposed the Nazi ideology. There were eyes and ears everywhere. It was a dangerous time to speak out against the Fuhrer or his Nazi Party.

Hitler became obsessed during this time with the idea of ‘Lebensraum,’ or living space, for the German people. He built up and re-armed the Army that had suffered restrictions as a result of the Versailles Treaty, a humiliating document that had basically ground Germany into the dirt, as Hitler saw it, for having caused World War One.

The reparations Germany had to pay after WW1 were brutally punitive. Hitler metaphorically tore up this hated treaty every time he marched his newly re-armed forces into a different country in yet another stunning land grab, and the people of Germany loved him for it.

He’d united Austria with Nazi Germany without the firing of a single shot. The Austrians welcomed Hitler and his cohorts with open arms and floral tributes. He was like a king when he rode in his car through the flower-strewn streets. It was one of his greatest moments.

Then came his acquisition of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, Neville Chamberlain and ‘Peace In Our Time,’ and then the ill-fated invasion of Poland which led to Britain and France declaring war on Germany, much to Hitler’s surprise. What do these assholes care about Poland, he was probably thinking, but care they did. It was jolly well a matter of principle, old boy. The war was very much a go…

France fell fairly quickly to the well-oiled Nazi machine. Nazi steamroller, more like. Britain, of course, held out staunchly to the end because Britons never, never, never shall be slaves, of course. Hitler unleashed the full force of the odious, fatly smiling Goering’s Luftwaffe on them but to no avail. Britain was not for turning…

Hitler spent much of the war teaching his beloved Alsatian dog Blondi to do tricks. He also enjoyed eating cake- Hitler, that is, not Blondi, although who knows, maybe the doggie did too- and so he consumed quite a lot of the stuff up in the gorgeous little Teahouse that formed part of his mountainside hideaway in the Berghof, where his long-term mistress Eva Braun resided.

Hitler should have been as fat as a fool, with all the cakes the film-makers show him putting away in this documentary. I got quite peckish for cake, actually, while watching this film, and so a packet of Jaffa cakes may or may not have been sacrificed to the common good on one of the nights…

Dr. Theodore Morell, Hitler’s doctor, gets a mention here as the doctor who put the Fuhrer on a cocktail of drugs to treat his various ailments, real or imagined. Hitler was something of a hypochondriac, but the drugs he was given probably far exceeded his need and would have almost certainly contributed to how divorced from reality he was by the end of the war.

America entered the war in 1941 after the Japanese shockingly attacked Pearl Harbour. Hitler is seen in the documentary film as not taking this news seriously enough. It was a disaster for him, however.

The Americans were mightily pissed off and would stay in the war until the bitter end, until they, in fact, were the victors along with Britain and Hitler’s most hated enemy, Russia. The threat of Bolshevism was as bad, to him, as the threat represented by the Jews.

Hitler’s invasion of Russia was an unmitigated disaster also, resulting in the deaths of millions of Russian soldiers and civilians and German soldiers. Fighting a war of that scale on two fronts was too much for one man, a man who by now wasn’t even living in the real world.

The Holocaust, the wholesale murder of the Jews of Europe in concentration camps, was in full swing by now, with Auschwitz in Poland at the ‘dead’ centre of the operation. The more catastrophic Hitler’s war became for Germany, the more the killing was speeded up, the killing he actually termed ‘humane’ because it was done by gassing rather than other, messier means.

Everyone wants to hear about the Bunker, of course, the ‘good stuff,’ lol, when Hitler moved battalions that no longer really existed around the map from one place to another during the daily situation reports that became more and more fraught. The war was lost. The jig was up. Hitler was pretty much the last person to take this admittedly unpalatable fact on board.

In his last couple of days, he marries Eva Braun, dictates his last Will and Testament to his secretary Traudl Junge and shoots himself while Eva bites down on a cyanide capsule on the couch beside him.

Nearby, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister and long-time toady Joseph Goebbels prepares to follow his Fuhrer even unto death, along with his wife Magda and their six children. Thus, with a gunshot and the hasty burning of two bodies in the Reichchancellery garden, endeth the Third Reich. There’s talk of a Fourth sequel but I don’t know, I think the franchise is pretty much played out, lol.

There’s some really fantastic footage of the players in this iconic real-life drama in HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL. I’d never seen a lot of the footage before and it was gob-smackingly clear and exciting to view.

The historians are pretty good too, my favourites being the super-enthusiastic Emma Craigie, author of HITLER’S LAST DAY: MINUTE BY MINUTE, which I’ve read and enjoyed, and also a chap by the name of Professor Richard Overy. Watch this if you’re a history fan. It’s top-notch stuff.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor