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The Architecture of Doom
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Featuring never-before-seen film footage of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, The Architecture of Doom captures the inner workings of the Third Reich and illuminates the Nazi aesthetic in art, architecture and popular culture. From Nazi party rallies to the final days inside Hitler's bunker, this sensational film shows how Adolf Hitler rose from being a failed artist to creating a world of ponderous kitsch and horrifying terror.
Hitler worshipped ancient Rome and Greece, and dreamed of a new Golden Age of classical art and monumental architecture, populated by beautiful, patriotic Aryans. Degenerated artists and inferior races had no place in his lurid fantasy. As this riveting film shows, the Nazis went from banning the art of modernists like Picasso to forced euthanasia of the retarded and sick, and finally to the persecution of homosexuals and the extermination of the Jews. Architecture of Doom is part of the Hitler and the Nazis box set.
A Masterpiece of scholarship and imagination. --Variety
- Features never-before-seen film footage of Hitler and the Nazi regime
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Cohen argues that the Nazi project was that of producing a better and more beautiful human being and race, a project that integrated art and the science of the day. The Nazi aesthetic was not just propaganda to get people to become committed Nazis, but was a goal in and of itself, from the earlier optimism of producing a better humanity (or at least Aryan race) to Hitler's eventual--but not unmotivated by earlier commitments--desire for an ending befiting classical tragedy.
The beginning is marvellously done. The portrayal of Nazism is so sympathetic that one is drawn in, and may even wonder if the film maker does not have Nazi sympathies. Any such wonder disappears within twenty minutes, but the film maker's ability to see what was so attractive about the Nazi project is crucial to the success of the film. In the end, one realizes that the Nazi project was evil in a way simultaneously subtler and yet deeper than one may have thought at the outset.
The film maker never draws parallels with our time. Still, the film should make one reflect on how the desires for perfect human beings and for the elimination of the imperfect are manifested now.
The Germans were not the only people looking for a Führer after World War I. The revolutions which The Great War gave rise to in Eastern, Central and Southern Europe virtually all ended in chaos, which only strong organizations with strong leaders could control: Lenin, Mussolini, Franco, Atatürk, various Balkan strongmen and, yes, Roosevelt. These leaders entered political vacuums and put their own stamp on their nations. Fortunately for America, Roosevelt's stamp was consistent with humane values. For the rest, alas....
The man who rose in the political vacuum of Germany was, in the view of The Architecture of Doom, first and foremost, an artist. His vision of what Germany should be was purely æsthetic. Because Hitler's will was imposed absolutely through terror, administered by his fanatical acolyte Heinrich Himmler, Hitler was able, uniquely in history (unless one counts Nero) actually to render his nation as a work of art. To remove the "ugliness," Hitler and Himmler employed mass murder.
But this is not the most unsettling thesis of The Architecture of Doom. Not only was Hitler a painter (A wistful dream: If only the Vienna Academy had accepted Hitler's application...), he was a theatrical producer, director and actor. Viewing Wagner's opera "Rienzi" was, by Hitler's own account, a watershed in his life. Cola di Rienzi was a medieval Italian politician who took over Rome, tried to unify Italy and restore the classical Roman Republic. Through a combination of treachery and the ingratitude of the people, Rienzi failed in his quest and perished in a violent siege.
The Architecture of Doom suggests, to me persuasively, that the World War II was actually conceived as a play, produced, directed and starring Adolf Hitler. It's a fantastic, nightmarish thought, but it makes sense after watching The Architecture of Doom.