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CANNES – Two of the biggest names in German TV have teamed up to shoot a biography of Adolf Hitler.
Jan Mojto of Beta Film and Nico Hofmann of teamWorx announced Monday that they will adapt the biography Hitler’s First War by historian Thomas Weber into an eight-part mini-series that traces Hitler’s life from his time as a solider in World War I to his death in 1945.
The project, tentatively budgeted at between $20 million-$25 million, will be shot in English.
TeamWorx, Beta will co-produce along with Beta’s production division EOS with Beta handling world sales. Weber, the historian Ralf Georg Reuth and Jonathan Steinberg, an expert on recent Jewish history, will serve as advisers for the TV series.
“We thought the time was right for a German look at Hilter, at his life,” Mojto said, adding that eight years after Bernd Eichinger‘s and Oliver Hirschbiegel‘s Oscar-nominated feature Downfall, which Beta co-produced, about Hitler’s final days, “we now go back to the origins.”
“This will be a demystification of HItler, a look at how he created his own history and created myths that seduced the German people,” said Hofmann. “The series will be a direct look at the biggest evil of this century: how it happened and where it came from.”
Weber said the only way to get to the bottom of the influence Hitler had over so many Germans was by “taking Hitler’s skills of self-invention seriously, his talents and weaknesses, his cold savagery but also his outright personal charm.”
The producers say Hitler’s First War will be closely based on historical research – “a documentary in drama” is how Hofmann describes it. The series will extend beyond Weber’s book, which focuses solely on Hitler’s life as a solider in World War I.
German writers Hark Bohm and Niki Stein are adapting Weber’s book for the small screen. Stein recently wrote and directed the German TV movie Rommel, a look at the last seven months of the notorious World War II general, dubbed the “Desert Fox”, which teamWorx and Beta co-produced.
Beta and teamworX plan to unveil the series to buyers at MIPCOM in 2014. They have announced the series two years in advance, Hofmann said, because of similar competing Hitler projects being developed in the U.S. and the U.K.
“We decided to get out there first, because we are already far along with our series – we have treatments for seven of the eight episodes finished and are well on the way to beginning production,” he explained.
Hitler’s First War is only the latest, if most ambitious, of historical dramas to come out of the Beta-teamWorx production partnership. In the past 12 years, the two companies have jointly produced 26 mini-series and TV movies, most set in Germany’s recent past. They include the Bafta-nominated The Sinking of the Laconia; Dresden – The Inferno, about the bombing of Dresden at the end of World War II; and Hindenburg about the dramatic last flight of the doomed German airship.
Beta and teamWorx’ line-up at MIPCOM this year includes the one-hour biopic Rommel starring Ulrich Tukur (The Lives of Others), Generation War, a three-part Band of Brothers-style series which follows the lives of five German friends from 1941 through the devestation of World War II and the Holocaust; and The Tower, a two-part adaptation of the novel by Uwe Tellkamp which looks at the final decade in the history of communist East Germany.
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