Barbie vs. Hitler: Jackboots on Whitehall (2010)
“ Ah…a puppet Winston Churchill beating the bad out of a puppet Adolph Hitler with a cricket bat,” was my hopeful thought when I first learned of Jackboots on Whitehall, which was described to me as a World War II film made with puppets. Imagining Punch-and-Judy-type hand puppets, I was to be disappointed when I found that there were no hand puppets, but instead a process called “supermarionation” (no, not Super Mario nation…at least, I don't think so).
Jackboots on Whitehall is an odd film from the UK, voiced by popular actors (Ewan McGregor, Alan Cumming, Richard E. Grant, Richard Griffiths, Rosamund Pike, Timothy Spall, Dominic West [as the lone American], and Tom Wilkinson). The story involves a plot that Hitler and the boys (Goebbels, Goering, and Himmler) devise to tunnel under the English Channel (which they successfully do) and capture Winston Churchill. The process of supermarionation involves a bunch of dolls that look like Barbie and Ken (and Hitler, Churchill, Himmler, Clark Gable, Goebbels, Goering, and Monty), that are crudely moved about, and have mouths and eyes that move (that’s probably the “super” part). Sometimes, though, their movements are so subtle, one thinks they are talking without moving their lips (perhaps incorporating a whole different form of puppetry: ventriloquism). Many of the sets are well crafted, and there aredecent props, although some of them look more like refugees from Happy Meals.
The characters definitely look like they came from Mattel, and their costumes fit like Barbie and Ken’s (picture Ken in his tuxedo, no James Bond he). Unlike Barbie and Ken, some of the dolls or “supermarionettes” are really ugly. They don’t look like they belong in Barbie’s Dream House; they look more like the toys you threaten to give kids when they don’t behave. Most of the female characters are pretty (most), if you think Barbie and friends are pretty, but the men—well, some of them are downright scary.Continued on the next page