February 7, 2022 by hollingsworthk
Hangmen Also Die opens by showing an ineffectual leader abuse his power in a petty way. This egotistical and seemingly incompetent man is the Nazi administrator of Czechoslovakia, Reinheard Heydrich. The movie portrays him in this light to show the crazed and manic nature of the Nazi regime over the Czech people. This “Hangman of Europe” plays with the lives of innocents and only cares about himself. The scene this image comes from shows Heydrich demoralize one of his own men by purposefully dropping what he was holding and waiting for the subordinate to pick it up. This, combined with the aloof way the character holds himself attempts to shatter the hardened image the Nazis created for themselves. Lang and Brecht wanted to show the Nazis as the maniacs that they really were so that people would feel less afraid to oppose them. As long as the people are scared of the Nazis, their rule would go unchallenged, but if you can strip them of that image and show them as poor leaders, you could inspire movements like the one that occurs within the film. Lang and Brecht knew of the atrocities that the Nazis committed, but rather than focus on the horror they chose to chip away at the Nazi self-image.