Color footage of 1936 Berlin, in what appears to be a promotional film for the city before the 1936 Olympics. (SLYT)
From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeing — foreign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
Nazi's propaganda. My Granddad once told me that I didn't understand Nazi's, because the black and white film always made it look unreal. He said if the films were color, I'd see.
The day after Kristallnacht, Hitler said: "It was necessary not to make propaganda for violence as such, but to explain certain matters of foreign policy to the German people in such a way, that the inner voice of the people all by itself gradually would call for violence." Towards that end, Goebbels commissioned and closely supervised the production of a propaganda documentary titled Der ewige Jude - "The Eternal Jew". Few if any of the inhabitants of the Łódź Ghetto who appear in its footage survived the war. [more inside]
A 10 minute home movie taken by an SS officer has been discovered in an English church. It shows SS officers and secretaries relaxing in the summer of 1942 in southern Russia. The last couple of minutes shows footage from a slave labor camp in that area. The footage was taken at the height of the German success in Russia, a few months before the turning point in the Russian campaign - and probably the turning point in the Second World War.
"The German invasion of Britain took place in July 1940, after the British retreat from Dunkirk". We see, documentary-style, members of the Wehrmacht trooping past Big Ben and St Paul's Cathedral, lounging in the parks, having their jackboots shined by old cockneys, and appreciatively visiting the shrine of that good German, Prince Albert, in Kensington Gardens. Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's film "It Happened Here", with its cast of hundreds (.pdf), imagines what a Nazi occupation might have been like — complete with underground resistance, civilian massacres, civil strife, torch-lit rallies, Jewish ghettos, and organized euthanasia. Shot on weekends, eight years in production, made for about $20,000 with nonactors and borrowed equipment and Stanley Kubrick's help, "It Happened Here" was originally envisioned by Brownlow as a sort of Hammer horror flick about a Nazi Britain. Thanks in part to Mollo's fanatical concern with historical accuracy, however, it became something else. The most remarkable thing about this account of everyday fascism is that it has no period footage. Brownlow's 1968 book about the film's production, "How It Happened Here", has recently been republished. More inside.
Many of you have probably heard of "Superfly" with its classic poster, and iconic soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. However, you might not have heard of some other Blaxploitation films. For Instance "The Black Gestapo" which mixes NAZI aesthetics with the roving bass of a tight funk beat, or perhaps even more ludicrously the 1992 underground Blaxploitation tribute film "Gayniggers From Outer Space".