Click here to listen to the interview.
As someone who considers herself fairly well-read and well-informed, I found Vanessa Lapa’s documentary, SPEER GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, a revelation. Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect. took great pains to present a carefully whitewashed version of himself after World War II, writing a best-selling memoir, INSIDE THE THIRD REICH, and successfully convincing the world that he was what later came to be termed a “good Nazi.” The kind that didn’t know about the Final Solution. His book made such an impact on the post-war world, that Paramount Studios wanted to film it in 1971, with Speer’s input and guidance.
Lapa’s documentary explodes that myth, as well as considering the way he seduced not just the general public, but also Hollywood. It was not until after Speer’s death in 1981 that his memoir was filmed, as a television mini-series starring Rutger Hauer as Speer, and Lapa’s opinion of it is one of the things we talked about via Zoom on October 1, 2021. Before we got there, though, I asked her about what it was like for her, a similarly well-informed, well-read Israeli, to discover the lengths to which Speer went to perform damage control on his role as Hitler’s architect.
We went on to talk about trusting the media (or not); the effect of listening to tapes recorded of Speer by screenwriter Andrew Birkin during Paramount’s bid to film Speer’s story; how she structured the story for an audience that might not be as familiar with the Third Reich as they should be; and how she came upon the Birkin’s tapes.
We finished up with the parallels between then and now when it comes to the rise of fascism; her take on the 1981 mini-series; and why it’s attractive to make films about people who change history in a good way, it’s important to make films about those who change it in a bad way.