A surrealistic, detached from real time, what-if fantasy in which AdolfHitler madly dictates his memoirs while holed up in his infamous bunkerafter World War II, "The Empty Mirror" is one of those art housefilms so impressed with itself and brimming with pretension that it's difficultto sit through at all, let alone take it even half as seriously as it takesitself.
Veteran British actor Norman Rodway stars as the mad dictator,goose-stepping around a minimalist sound stage while Nazi propaganda filmsare projected in the background, devouring scenery with rabid pontificationsabout his philosophy and his legacy (sample dialogue: "The Jews taketheir disintegration so personally!")
Relentlessly verbose to the point that after the firsthour it's hard not to tune the guy out from boredom, this wildly over-actedHitler caricature imagines conversations with apparitions of his underlingsJoseph Goebbels (Joel Grey) and Hermann Goering (Glenn Shadix), a fantasybabe version of lover Eva Braun (Camilla Soeberg) -- hey, if you're havingdelusions of grandeur, your girlfriend might as well be a 10 -- and evenSigmund Frued (Peter Michael Goetz), who, of course, was Jewish. Oh, Iget it! Irony!
Written and directed by feature freshman Barry Hersheywith a kind of ostensibly penetrating dialogue and self-congratulatorysymbolism designed to allow him to dismiss detractors by sniffing thatthey just didn't get it, "The Empty Mirror" is an fascinatingidea taken to a ridiculous extreme. Insultingly exaggerated metaphors swarmevery scene (Oooo! Hitler paints a self-portrait without eyes! What couldit mean?) and the stream-of-consciousness soliloquies pause only long enoughto throw in high-concept visual sequences -- walls exploding with blood,etc.
Powerful, Wagner-inspired visuals and an occasional senseof humor give "The Empty Mirror" a good start, but Hershey seemsto have come from the Oliver Stone school of subtlety in his directorialstyle. Every bit as self-indulgent as his subject, the director flogs todeath every concept and symbol he puts forth. He's convinced himself he'sbeing visionary, when in fact he's just being obvious.