I don't understand why this German satire, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, has never been released in NTSC video format. There are numerous lesser foreign films available on video in the US and Canada, but mysteriously not "Schtonk!". I've wanted to see this movie for years and seized the opportunity the other day when I found it at a movie lover's video store (Scarecrow Video, Seattle, WA) in PAL format. This required me to rent a machine that converts the PAL signal, and as I paid the $800 deposit to the store clerk for said machine I joked, "This better be worth the wait" (and the deposit).
The success of the comedy in "Schtonk!" is due to the fact that it is based in fact. If it weren't for this being an actual event in German history, the ludicrous story would seem just too stupid to be funny. The idiocy of the characters actions is of course embellished, which is why the movie is so good. The magazine reporter desperate for a scandalous scoop is brilliantly played like a man who wants the big story so bad he will believe anything. And he does. Once he stumbles on to the Hitler "diaries" he and the rest of the press can't get enough. This movie obviously works on several levels, some of which I don't quite appreciate being I am not German, but one universal statement is that of the press having the role of gatekeeper, the ability to decide what is a "story", and the consequences when that ability is misused.
I've seen Uwe Ochsenknecht in a couple of Doris Dörrie movies and found him to be a talented comedic actor. His portrayal of the "diaries" forger is one more great performance. The farcical telling of his role in the hoax serves as a vital display of how absurd and fascinating a story this con was. Such details as his reasoning for using the initials F.H. and his taking on the characteristics of Hitler the deeper he got into his work are hilarious subtleties that play an important part in the greater humor of the entire film. The story did seem to drag on in a couple places, perhaps a little more editing could have been implemented, but that won't deter me from recommending this fun satire or seeing it again and again myself. I've been looking forward to seeing "Schtonk!" for the last 12 years, and now that I've seen it I can honestly say I am not disappointed.