Max (film): Wikis


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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Menno Meyjes
Produced by John Cusack
Written by Menno Meyjes
Starring John Cusack
Noah Taylor
Leelee Sobieski
Molly Parker
Music by Dan Jones
Cinematography Lajos Koltai
Editing by Chris Wyatt
Studio Pathé Pictures
Alliance Atlantis
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s) December 27, 2002
Running time 106 minutes
Country Hungary
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $11 million
Gross revenue $539,879

Max is a 2002 Hungarian/Canadian/British fictional drama film, that depicts a friendship between a Jewish art dealer, Max Rothman, and a young Austrian painter, Adolf Hitler. The film explores Hitler's views which began to take shape under Nazi ideology; while also studying the artistic and design implications of the Third Reich and how their visual appeal helped hypnotize the German people. The film goes on to study the questions of what could have been if Hitler had been more accepted in the art community instead of him developing into an extremist politician.



The year is 1918, and Max Rothman (John Cusack), a fictional Munich art dealer, is a veteran of the Third Battle of Ypres, where he lost his right arm during the latter stages of World War I effectively ending his career as a painter. He returns to Germany to attempt to capture the essence of war through art by opening a modern art gallery in an old abandoned locomotive factory. Married to Nina (Molly Parker), but in a relationship with a mistress, Liselore von Peltz (Leelee Sobieski), Max sells his collection of paintings which ends up materializing into a rather profitable venture for him. Through a chance encounter, Rothman is approached by a young Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor), a war veteran as well, disgruntled over Germany's loss during the conflict and the country's humiliation by the signing of the Versailles Treaty; who wishes to have his artwork drawings displayed. German artist George Grosz (Kevin McKidd) is introduced as an anxious painter also yearning for artistic exposure from Rothman's gallery.

Rothman comes to believe Hitler has talent, but has failed to tap his inner potential necessary to create great art into his work. While he is aware of Hitler's anti-semitism, Rothman still encourages him to delve deeper in his art, as they both develop a friendship realizing they fought nearly side by side in the trenches of the war. Rothman also understands how the young Hitler had nothing to come home to after the war, while he had his wealth and family. Despite his overall doubts about Hitler, Rothman agrees to take some of his paintings under a contractual basis. As these events unfold, Hitler is being urged by Captain Karl Mayr (Ulrich Thomsen), a member of an army division called the Reichswehr, to go into politics and make a career out of rousing anti-semitic propaganda. During a brief conversation in an army barracks, Mayr also offers to financially support him by having the army pay for his expenses, further enticing the poor and impoverished Hitler to join his national socialist movement, the German Workers' Party; which he later eventually agrees to.

Later, Rothman begins to question Hitler's motives regarding his racial views. In an exchange of words, Hitler denies being anti-semitic and replies that on the contrary, he grudgingly admires the Jews and firmly believes the secret to their elite status in society is in the purity of their blood. He goes on to state that the German people would be of equal caliber and better off if they acted in the same way by not integrating themselves with different races such as the Jews, and preserving the purity of their own blood.

After making a tirade laced speech to a group of supporters at a rally with the satisfaction of Mayr, Hitler embarks on his way to a meeting with Rothman at the Metropole Cafe, to discuss a series of new militaristic paper drawings which had earlier impressed Rothman, as well as his artistic future in general. As Rothman approaches the cafe for his interview with Hitler, he is savagely beaten by a group of german supremacists almost to the point of death, after them previously attending Hitler's stirring rally. As Hitler eagerly but patiently awaits his arrival, Rothman never makes it to the cafe. Hitler then leaves in disgust believing he was stood up by Rothman, as history would later take its destructive course by him choosing a career path of politics over art.




The film was written and directed by screenwriter Menno Meyjes. When Meyjes was shopping the script around Hollywood, he first approached Amblin Entertainment for funding. And as part of helping to finance the film, star John Cusack agreed to take no salary for his lead role.[1] Steven Spielberg, for whom Meyjes had produced the Oscar and BAFTA-nominated script adaptation of The Color Purple, told him that he felt the script was well written, but he would personally feel uncomfortable funding the film without insulting the memory of Holocaust survivors. He encouraged Meyjes to make the film, but without support from Amblin. Filming locations included Amsterdam, Netherlands and Budapest, Hungary as backdrops for early 20th century Germany.


Critical reception

Critics were generally favorable of the film. The Guardian critic, Peter Bradshaw, commented on the film's "clever and plausible propositions about career and destiny."[2] while The Observer's Mark Kermode described it as, "Far from faultless ... but praiseworthy for its chutzpah, this rumbustious affair provokes both serious consideration and light-hearted appreciation."[3] Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times remarked that, "To ponder Hitler's early years with the knowledge of his later ones is to understand how life can play cosmic tricks with tragic results."[4] Alternatively, Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone described a reference in the film made by the character Rothman; "You're an awfully hard man to like, Hitler", saying, "Few serious films could survive a line like that. Max certainly doesn't."[5] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times similarly commented "it fritters away its potentially interesting subject matter via a banal script, unimpressive acting and indifferent direction."[6]


Home media

The Region 1 Code widescreen edition of the film was released on DVD in the U.S. on May 20, 2003. Special features include interviews with the cast and crew as well as an audio commentary on the entire film with director Menno Meyjes. Currently, there is no set date on a future Blu-ray Disc release for the film.

Box office

The film went on to gross $539,879 in 37 theaters during its 15-week American release.[7]


  1. ^ Max (2002) - Trivia
  2. ^ Max, review by Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, June 20, 2003
  3. ^ Führer in the frame, review by Mark Kermode, The Observer, June 22, 2003
  4. ^ Max, review by Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, January 24, 2003.
  5. ^ Max, review by Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, January 16, 2003
  6. ^ Max, review by Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2002
  7. ^ Max, Box Office Mojo, accessed April 5, 2008.

External links

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