Herbert in plaster
In the films of Herbert Achternbusch the plot is more of a space in which the Bavarian filmmaker, poet and painter improvises. For example as artist and soldier Herbert in Heilt Hitler!, which premiered 25 years ago at the Berlinale. At night Herbert sits with his last comrade in the trenches of Stalingrad. While his comrade is writing with his finger one last letter to the Fuehrer into the air, Herbert starts to plaster himself with the last bucket of plaster, so the Russians find only a statue. Suddenly Herbert finds himself in the Munich of the eighties. At the war memorial in Munich’s Hofgarten is written “They will rise again”. That’s the miracle of Stalingrad. Herbert does not know where he is and tries to scrounge cigarettes, in Russian. Maybe the Germans have won the war, have rebuilt Stalingrad after the model of Munich and renamed it Hitlergrad. On the Munich Marienplatz and Lake Starnberg Herbert observes that all Germans are sick. Like Hitler: “No one is healed.” Heilt Hitler! is an absurd farce, shot in eleven days in Super-8 and blown-up to 35 mm, a histrionic, avant-garde artist’s film with wonderful monologic passages, where Achternbusch’s later conversion to Buddhism is already indicated.
Detlef Kuhlbrodt in DIE ZEIT, 7th July 2011