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Written By:

Charlie Oughton

The title The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot may put you in mind of an ‘ardman “celeb” (playing himself) hollering one-liners at CGI whilst running through the Essex woodland. Starring Sam Elliott (Roadhouse) showing determination wrought through the years, Robert D. Krzykowski’s stunning first feature as director is anything but. Krzykowski manages to rearrange the importance of history even with the silliest (real) beastie you ever did see.

Calvin Barr is old now. Possessed of Elliott’s voluminous moustache and hair his brother Ed (Larry Miller) occasionally cuts for him while coaxing him to open up, Elliot flashes back to a youth where (as Poldark’s Aidan Turner) he went behind enemy lines to the Nazis in World War 2. His mission was to kill Adolf and, hopefully, fascism itself. Years later, two suspicious specimens arrive on his doorstep and ask him to take out an “old man” yeti whose existence also threatens to wipe out humanity.

With cinematography that makes even imminent extinction seem something to savour, we are shown the power of myth and memory in terms of how much an individual’s actions change the course of humanity. The soundtrack forces you to focus on senses other than simply seeing, and you almost smell the wood in the Reich’s offices as you feel a niggle in Calvin’s shoe and mentally stretch down with him to prise it out. The focus on the shared irritations of everyday life leads us to empathy and joint wonder at more abstract and inescapable terrors. Will Calvin make it to the end? Krzykowski’s pacing is absolutely exquisite.

The acting is incredible. Elliott is known for his wild west roles and, considering his own advanced age, it’s not surprising that he brings a sense of determination here. He also has the ambivalence of someone old enough to realise there are rarely easy answers, but that the more mistakes we make, the more we want the answers to be there. Turner has less emotional depth than his senior partner, but he makes up for it with a sandpaper jerkiness that cracks into life when he is with those he loves and things have a chance of being okay. That is when the stakes are highest. Caitlyn Fitzgerald is heartbreaking as his love, and there’s also a superb sequence in which the importance of self-care is put in a political context.

The main query in the cast is Mark Steger (Stranger Things) as Bigfoot. The action and costume are rather excitable (at one point going full-on Drag Me To Hell), but ultimately this underscores the idea of mortality as something grave and utterly insensible. The film is reminiscent of everything from The Shawshank Redemption through to Pan’s Labyrinth and back to St Vincent.

The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot moulds the hellishly real with the whimsical to get us to question our place in the world. It is malevolent, hopeful and incredibly moving – a fantasy for the ponderous imagination.


Charlie Oughton

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