Albert Speer’s Hollywood ambitions revealed in new documentary

Speer worked in the early 1970s with Andrew Birkin, a screenwriter who has since written the screenplay for The Name of the Rose, to turn his book, Inside the Third Reich, into a screenplay.

ALBERT SPEER, Hitler’s chief architect and the highest-ranking Nazi to be spared the death penalty at the Nuremberg trials. (photo credit: HANNS-PETER FRENTZ)
ALBERT SPEER, Hitler’s chief architect and the highest-ranking Nazi to be spared the death penalty at the Nuremberg trials.
(photo credit: HANNS-PETER FRENTZ)
Speer Goes to Hollywood, a fascinating new documentary by Israeli director Vanessa Lapa, drew an enthusiastic response at its world premiere at the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, on Wednesday.
Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect and the highest-ranking Nazi to be spared the death penalty at the Nuremberg trials, wrote a bestselling memoir following his release from Spandau Prison, which he believed would be made into a Hollywood film. Insisting he didn’t know the details of the Final Solution or what went on in the concentration camps, Speer worked in the early 1970s with Andrew Birkin, a screenwriter who has since written the screenplay for The Name of the Rose, to turn his book, Inside the Third Reich, into a screenplay for Paramount Pictures. Birkin and Speer taped their work meetings and these tapes are the basis for Speer Goes to Hollywood.
It’s riveting and bizarre to listen to Speer talking about which aspects of his Nazi career would make for the most cinematic moments, which gives new meaning to the cynical joke, “There’s no business like Shoah business.” It’s also strange to hear Birkin prod Speer on his absurd claim that he was ignorant of the Holocaust and of the horrific conditions imposed on the 12 million slave laborers who were at his command.
The documentary also features several recorded telephone conversations between Birkin and Sir Carol Reed, the great British director who made such classics as The Third Man. Reed read drafts of the screenplay – which went through many versions – and was appalled by what he saw as Birkin’s attempt to “whitewash” Speer. His clear objections force Birkin to confront the fact that he may be getting too close to his subject and losing perspective.
Extensive testimony from Nuremberg reveals the extent of the suffering of the laborers who constructed the buildings Speer designed. At the end of Speer Goes to Hollywood, news footage shows the full extent of the death camp horrors.
The film will certainly be shown at film festivals and theaters during the upcoming year.


Tags film nazi