Human Remains

Human Remains

Human Remains is a Jay Rosenblatt short film. Over the course of a half hour, for roughly six minutes each, footage is shown of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, and Mao. Mostly it’s “behind the scenes” or “up close and personal stuff,” not the conventional speeches and public appearances you’d normally see in a documentary.

Meanwhile, the soundtrack consists of a voiceover done in first person, as if it’s each of these five individuals. Each of the dictators speaks about himself. Mostly it’s autobiography by trivia—just a collection of facts (though I’m not sure how many are confirmed and how many are reasonable surmises), again mostly about them personally rather than major political or military matters.

In some ways this approach humanizes them and makes them strangely sympathetic. But in other ways, by including oddball and unappealing things like “I only had one testicle,” “I never bathed,” “I never brushed my teeth,” etc., it pushes you away from their private selves just as most folks are already repelled by their public selves.

Both the archival footage and the “fun facts” narration are interesting to some degree. But I wouldn’t say I got a great deal out of it. It’s borderline as to whether it’s worth the investment of a half hour to watch.

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