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: ...
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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
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 »
The film approaches the Nazi period from a refreshing angle: the seldom-documented (in film) visions that informed official Nazi aesthetics, given priority by a host of top Nazis who, like their Fuehrer, were failed artists. It offered a number of insights, such as the role played by architectural sketches Hitler had made in his youth and the future propaganda value of gargantuan Greek-influenced architecture (e.g., Reich buildings were designed to decompose along the lines of Roman ruins so as to impress archaeologists centuries later).
But the English narration by Sam Gray was so atrocious that it was difficult to separate it from the visual and conceptual qualities of the film itself. Imagine a Beethoven symphony where the strings are played without passion and several beats off from the other sections no reflection on the composer, but still hard to listen to. So great was the impact of the narration, in fact, that I expected to see ratings averaging 5 or 6 (my vote) on the IMDb site. Gray's uneven, indifferent inflection applied to a script he clearly (to judge by his mispronunciations) had not familiarized himself with gave the film an amateurish quality that it surely did not have in the original Swedish or the German versions. Moreover, the English translation, done by a German, was awkward in places.
As tragic an oversight as the choice of the English narrator was, Peter Cohen and the producers ultimately retain responsibility for letting it pass, especially since Cohen had worked in English before. Any educated native English-speaker asked to review it would have cautioned them, after a single listening, not to underestimate how much the narration undermined its effectiveness. Engaging another narrator surely would not have broken the budget.
Had I the choice, I'd see this film again with the Swedish or German narrations, subtitled in English.
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