A Kitten for Hitler
|A Kitten for Hitler|
|Directed by||Ken Russell|
|Produced by||Dan Schreiber|
|Written by||Ken Russell and Emma Millions|
|Starring||Phil Pritchard, Rosey Thewlis, Rusty Goffe|
|Edited by||Michael Bradsell|
|8 minutes 20 seconds|
A Kitten for Hitler, also known as Ein Kitten fur Hitler, is a 2007 short film directed by British director Ken Russell. It was created by Russell with the intention of it being offensive. Due to the nature of the film there were some problems with casting, resulting in a dwarf actor appearing in the lead role of a Jewish child. It was released on Comedybox.tv on 1 July 2007.
In 1941, a Jewish boy named Lenny is watching a newsreel at a theatre in Brooklyn with his mother when one featuring Adolf Hitler appears. The crowd boos. The child questions why no one likes him and wonders what Santa will give him for Christmas. His mother tells him that no one will get Hitler anything for Christmas. The boy travels to Germany to give Hitler a kitten for Christmas. Once he arrives, he presents the boxed gift to Hitler, who initially thinks it is a bomb, and throws it to Eva Braun. She opens it and gives the kitten to Hitler, who is apparently deeply moved. Hitler's mood changes when he discovers that the child is Jewish and has a swastika-shaped birthmark on his stomach. Hitler orders Eva to kill the child and make his skin into a lampshade, which the couple then have on their bedside table lamp. Following the war, the lamp is returned to the boy's mother who keeps it as a memento. When she touches it, it supernaturally lights up of its own accord and the swastika magically transforms into a Star of David. A miracle is proclaimed. The president awards the Purple Heart to the lampshade.
- Adolf Hitler – Phil Pritchard
- Eva Braun – Rosey Thewlis
- Lenny's Mum – Lisi Tribble
- Lenny – Rusty Goffe
- Harry S. Truman – Rufus Graham
Following a discussion about film censorship with British broadcaster Melvyn Bragg while they worked on The South Bank Show, Russell was challenged by Bragg to create a film which Russell himself would want banned. A Kitten for Hitler was the result of the process that followed. After Russell sent Bragg an initial draft, Bragg responded "Ken, if ever you make this film and it is shown, you will be lynched."
Adolf Hitler was played by Phil Pritchard. Those auditioning for the part were asked to attend the casting dressed as Hitler, creating a bizarre waiting room scene. Due to the content of the film, dwarf actor Rusty Goffe was hired to play the role of the boy as Russell could not convince any child actor's parents to allow their son to appear. The child's mother was played by Russell's wife Lisi, and the costumes were organised by his daughter. The entire film was filmed in a studio in Shoreditch against a green screen with the backgrounds added in digitally later. The film was broadcast on Comedybox.tv, after Russell was introduced to Dan Schreiber by screenwriter Emma Millions.
Ken Russell later described A Kitten for Hitler as his most bizarre and shocking, even more so than his banned 1971 work The Devils, although he also described it as a comedy. Russell told the story of the film to fellow director Quentin Tarantino at a film festival, who reacted favourably. In 2012 it was included in a list of six alternative Christmas films by British newspaper The Guardian.
- Russell, Ken (27 September 2007). "My Kitten for Hitler is all in the best bad taste". The Times. Retrieved 22 December 2012. (subscription required)
- Lyne, Charlie (21 December 2012). "Six alternative Christmas films". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- Miller, Ian; Nayeri, Farah (11 December 2011). "U.K. Provocateur Ken Russell, Director of 'Tommy,' Dies at 84". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- "Ken Russell: Devils Worship". Totally Sci-Fi Online. 28 September 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- Barnes, Henry; Shoard, Catherine (28 November 2011). "Ken Russell dies aged 84". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- Russell, Ken (8 February 2007). "I was attacked on all sides for The Devils". The Times. Retrieved 22 December 2012. (subscription required)
- "The Listener: The ways and whims of a horny old devil In this week's selection from the best of BBC radio, the ever- eccentric Ken Russell talks about perverted priests, nude nuns and banning his own film". The Independent. 19 November 2000. Retrieved 22 December 2012. (subscription required)