May 13, 2009

Justify My Netflix: Television Under the Swastika

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Television Under the Swastika

Today's movie: Television Under the Swastika, 1999 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix)

Why I added it to my queue: Because as regular readers know, the historical study of Nazi Germany is a bit of an obsession with me, in that I believe only by understanding in a complex way how cartoonish fascists managed to take over an entire liberal democratic country can we stop the same thing from happening in the future (cough cough BUSH REGIME cough cough); and that simply leads me to more and more obscure subtopics as I get older and more informed on the subject, such as this documentary concerning the early history of television under the science-obsessed Nazis.

The reality: Fascinating. Did you know that Nazi Germany was the first country to start broadcasting television on a daily basis? Did you know that the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin was the first major sports event in human history to be televised? Did you know that as World War Two continued, the whole thing got turned into a private network for all the Nazi VA hospitals, a sorta "wireless USO" designed specifically to entertain the millions of injured, demoralized troops Germany was racking up by then? No, neither did I! And in fact, the whole history of television in Nazi Germany gets even more fascinating than this, in that actual live video images in the '30s were a near-impossibility (one needed an extra-bright room and to put the camera inches away from a person's face just to see anything on the screen at all); what that led the Nazis to doing was actually filming all their content on celluloid and then re-broadcasting it later, which is why we still have hundreds of hours of Nazi TV programming documented and archived, versus almost no early American video-direct television because of there being no way to record video back then. This information-packed documentary presents all kinds of interesting stuff like this (including a look at the ingenious "film trucks" designed for the Berlin Olympics, in which an unending celluloid strip would literally run through the camera and straight into a processor inside the vehicle, ready to be broadcast on TV five minutes later); and of course I can't even begin to tell you how fascinating it is to actually watch some of this old footage, and to see such bizarrely banal things as wacky morning Nazi talk shows and the like. A big recommendation from me today, no matter how much or little you're into Nazi history yourself.

Worth your time? Absolutely.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:07 AM, May 13, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |