Taika Waititi’s New Movie Just Revived (and Perfected) the ‘Angry Hitler’ Meme

The führer finds a new nemesis in the 'Polynesian Jew' behind Jojo Rabbit

Hitler learns that he's back in the meme-mockery spotlight in a promotion for the dark satire Jojo Rabbit. - Credit by Via Jojo Rabbit on Twitter
Headshot of David Griner

It’s been more than 13 years since video pranksters began putting their own subtitles over the intense scene from German film Downfall in which Adolf Hitler learns that his inescapable defeat is nigh. While that practically makes it a dinosaur of the digital era, the meme clearly still packs some punch.

To help promote Taika Waititi’s upcoming movie—a dark satire about a boy whose imaginary friend is a ridiculously inept version of Hitler—Fox Searchlight today tweeted a version of the Downfall meme that shows the führer learning about the film, Jojo Rabbit.

As you might imagine, the demented ruler is not happy about the premise (the movie is described as “an anti-hate satire”), but the moment that truly breaks him is when he learns who’s behind it:

Usually, when marketers try to embrace a meme, the result is just embarrassing for everyone involved, including the viewer. But this one is a masterpiece of the form and will likely get far more passaround than the official trailer (which you can watch below). It’s also a clever way of getting a bit in front of any potential criticism about the movie’s sensitive subject from those who might not know that the Thor: Ragnarok director is the child of a Maori father and Russian-Jewish mother.

We’ll be curious to hear the story behind how the meme got approved as an official piece of marketing. While Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel has described himself as a fan of the many humorous edits posted over the years, studio Constantin Films attempted (with little success) to shut down the viral videos that sprung from a movie intended to be serious. Perhaps enough time has passed for Downfall’s copyright owners to warm up to the parodies?

However it came about, the Downfall sendup for Jojo Rabbit was an instant hit on Twitter today.

How involved was Waititi with the video? Based on his tweet today shortly after it went live, it sounds like he was as pleasantly surprised by the meme’s comeback as the rest of us.

Here’s a look at the official trailer for Jojo Rabbit, which will hit U.S. theaters in October:

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@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."