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Saturday, June 19, 2010

TELEVISION UNDER THE SWASTIKA (1999)

Michael Kloft’s odd little documentary answers a question no one asked. For those who care, the answer is ‘Yes!,’ Nazi Germany started broadcast television back in 1935. Who knew? The technical aspects of the story (cathode ray tubes, frequencies, reception) are only touched on (were there military implications?), but we do learn about viewing parlors for the masses, and home units for a few high ranking Nazis. Since almost no live transmissions were preserved, we make do with an olio of musical acts, sporting events, cooking demos(!), political rallies & public service announcements which were filmed for broadcast and saved in East Germany. Brief moments of interest, like noticing the use of an American Pop tune from a Jewish composer or watching a double amputee cautiously learn to two-step, hardly compensate for the otherwise dreary offerings. It’s valuable as history, but who knew the Nazis could be so dull?

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