Thursday, 20 September 2018

"The Women Who Flew For Hitler".....a dreamcast of a movie adaptation

Clare Mulley,  September 2018

‘Blog post written for The Campaign for the American Reader’.

What could be more filmic? Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg both learnt to fly over the same green slopes of north-east Germany in the 1930s. This was the glamorous age of flight, when Amelia Earhart had her own fashion line and En Avion was the perfume of choice. Female pilots anywhere were considered courageous, but nowhere were they considered more extraordinary than in Nazi Germany, which promoted the idea that women’s real place was in church, the kitchen and the nursery. Hanna and Melitta were exceptional, and with the war they became the only women to serve the regime as test pilots, the only two female Flight Captains in Nazi Germany, and both recipients of the Iron Cross.

You might have thought, then, that Hanna and Melitta would have supported one another, but in fact there was no love lost between them. With her bubbly personality, blond hair and blue-eyes, Hanna seemed the perfect example of Aryan maidenhood, and she was soon an ardent supporter of what she considered to be the dynamic new Nazi regime. Melitta, by contrast, was dark, serious and seemingly shy. Her father had been born Jewish and she was officially categorised as ‘Mischling’, or half-blood, by the regime, but her skills were so valuable to them that they gave her ‘Equal to Aryan’ status. In July 1944, Melitta would support the most famous attempt to assassinate Hitler.

There could hardly be more perfect roles for two actresses today; both at the heart of the Third Reich’s war effort, risking their lives daily in the macho world of Nazi aviation. How about Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence for the blond Hanna, who once starred in UFA films for the Nazi the regime. Rachel Weiss or perhaps Gal Gadot could excel as her nemesis, whose quiet determination and moral courage drive the story forward.

There are plenty of supporting roles for the men here too. Hitler is hard to cast, although Bruno Ganz was excellent in Downfall. (The terrifying map room scene when Hitler/Ganz screams at his generals is one of the most adapted clips on YouTube.) Tom Cruise has already played Claus von Stauffenberg, Melitta’s brother-in-law, in the film Valkyrie, but perhaps he could be persuaded to reprise the role among the supporting cast?

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