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Undergångens arkitektur (1989)

An absorbing and chilling documentary about the National Socialist aesthetic, and how attempts to create the Aryan Ideal caused the extermination of millions. Aspects covered include: ... See full summary »




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Credited cast:
Rolf Arsenius ...
Narrator (original version) (voice)
Narrator (German, subtitled English versions) (voice)
Sam Gray ...
Narrator (dubbed English version)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Martin Bormann ...
Himself (archive footage)
Karl Brandt ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Dr. Karl Brandt)
Arno Breker ...
Himself (archive footage)
Hermann Giesler ...
Himself (archive footage)
Joseph Goebbels ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Josef Goebbels)
Heinrich Himmler ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Wilhelm Keitel ...
Himself (archive footage)
Viktor Lutze ...
Himself (archive footage)
Narrator (French version) (voice)
Alfred Rosenberg ...
Himself (archive footage)
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt ...
Himself (archive footage)


An absorbing and chilling documentary about the National Socialist aesthetic, and how attempts to create the Aryan Ideal caused the extermination of millions. Aspects covered include: Hitler's epiphany while viewing Wagner's opera 'Rienzi', the rise of the homo-erotic Grecian/Nordic ideal, the parallels drawn between the 'degenerate' art of the cubists and dadaists and the mentally ill/physically deformed, the Nazi obsession with purity and cleanliness, and, finally, the descent of the Jewish people to the level of a virus/vermin. Written by Dawn M. Barclift

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Skönhetskult och barbari i Tredje Riket


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Release Date:

13 October 1989 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Architecture of Doom  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


While researching this film in Germany, 'Cohen, Peter' stumbled upon an obscure industrial documentary about various methods of vermin control for factory use. This short, entitled "Kleinkrieg" (or "Little War"), proved invaluable as it was the first to advocate the use of Zyklon-B as an effective means of mass extermination. See more »


Features Der ewige Jude (1940) See more »


Requiem (excerpt)
Music by Hector Berlioz
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting look at the Nazi artistic ideal and how that may have lead to genocide, eugenics and the horrors of the Second World War.
15 September 2006 | by (Glen Cove, New York) – See all my reviews

This fast moving film postulates that the ideas that the Nazi hierarchy held about art influenced the drive to cleanse the race and make it pure. The Nazi's loved the classical ideal and hated anything that was impressionistic or modern and used it as proof of genetic impurity. The film recreates a lecture that toured Germany which showed how modern or degenerate art was based on deformed people. We see the images from the degenerate art and how they are compared to the mental and physically handicapped. This, the film argues, allowed the Nazis to then begin to sculpt the German people into the perfect physical being through murder (after all they are less then human).

Its an interesting idea but I don't think it was as big a deal as the film makes it out to be. Certainly there was the drive to create the perfect little Nazi, but I don't think it was as formalized as the movie says. I think the nice ideas of art and race were less intertwined as this film thinks. That said this movie is kick in the pants and in the head. The ideas it puts forward were probably at the very least operating on a subconscious level as a form of positive re-enforcement. Its all very plausible, which is scary.

Definitely worth seeing for anyone wanting to further color their understanding of Nazi ideas. You may not wholly agree with whats presented, but it will make you think, which isn't a bad thing.

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