He’s played a rock monster in Thor: Ragnarok, a polite vampire in What We Do in the Shadows, and now Taika Waititi will play an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler in his upcoming film Jojo Rabbit. Yes, you heard that right. The film will focus on a 10 year old boy during Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. Lacking a father figure and confused by the propaganda he sees, the boy comes up with an imaginary friend to help him get by. And that imaginary friend just so happens to be Adolf Hitler. No, not the actual Hitler, but one who is much, much more sympathetic to the boy’s plight and probably less bigoted.
In an exclusive interview with TheWrap, Waititi clarified the differences. “This is not the Adolf we know and hate, this guy is goofy, charming, and glides through life with a child-like naivety,” he explained in the character description.
Jojo Rabbit will start production in May, so it’ll be a ways before it arrives in theaters. Nevertheless, it’ll be one of Fox Searchlights first releases after Disney acquired the studio. An odd combination to be sure, yet it technically wouldn’t be Disney’s first foray into poking fun at the Fuhrer. During World War II itself, the studio produced animated cartoons satirizing America’s enemy.
While it still has a ways to go until its release, Jojo Rabbit was written some time ago. Back in 2012 it made the Black List, a ranking of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. The massive success of Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Waititi, likely contributed heavily to the decision to greenlight the film.
Fox Searchlight has since put forth a more recent synopsis of the movie:
JOJO RABBIT, by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), blends his signature humor, pathos, and deeply compelling characters in a World War II satire about a ten-year-old boy who, ridiculed by his peers and misunderstood by his mother, can’t quite figure out how to fit in. As the naïve young German struggles to understand his place in an increasingly Fascist regime, he resorts to an imaginary friend who can offer advice and help him cope.
Plenty of films exist satirizing Nazi Germany, such as Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Mel Brooks’ The Producers. However, judging by Waititi’s description and his previous work, the film will likely serve a thoughtful and sentimental story alongside the promised comedy.