Hitler's Hollywood

Critic Rüdiger Suchsland follows From Caligari to Hitler (2014), his documentary history of German cinema between the world wars, with a sequel on the moviemaking of the Third Reich, as controlled by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The giant UFA studio, taken over by the Nazis in 1933, was a dream factory on par with any American movie operation, and the documentary challenges viewers to appreciate the extraordinary beauty of the clips presented without forgetting the heinous philosophy they promoted (or sometimes concealed). Suchsland, a careful and observant critic, argues that the Nazi cinema was more varied and politically ambivalent than we might imagine, and he examines a broad range of movies from the era, from anti-Semitic propaganda like the infamous Jew Süss (1940) to “films of legitimization” whose stories softened people up for fascism to dramas released near the end of the war that offered coded critiques of the Nazi regime, just as Hollywood movies hinted at sexual subjects during the same period. Udo Kier narrates.