Although the Full Frame fest will be offering a huge program of exciting documentaries this weekend in Durham, there's a fascinating film playing at Chapel Hill's Chelsea Theater called Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary.
Blind Spot is nothing more than the edited product of several hours of interviews with an aging Munich woman named Traudl Junge, shot over two sessions in her apartment. The camera never budges from its fixed position on the tripod as we watch Junge describe how she came to be Hitler's personal secretary as a young woman in 1942, a position she would hold right up to the dictator's suicide in a Berlin bunker in May of 1945.
Junge is a thoughtful, articulate but somewhat remote presence. Sitting before a bookcase in a sweater and scarf, and chain-smoking throughout, this old woman explains how her curiosity, lack of political acumen and need for a father figure led her into Hitler's lair. Her portrait of the man we imagine to be a monster is disturbingly banal--she describes an awkward, courteous, compulsively clean vegetarian who neither drank nor smoked and doted on his dog (a German shepherd named Blondie, natch).
Director Andre Heller supplies the film's sole narrative device by videotaping Junge as she watches her earlier interview and supplies clarifications and amplifications. Although there's apparently little new information in this documentary, Blind Spot is valuable in that it allows us to witness an ordinary person's testimony to her complicity in a collective crime. Then there's just the sheer amazement of seeing the testimony of a woman who was in such close daily contact with history's most reviled figure.