Hitler's Hit Parade | Chicago Reader

Hitler's Hit Parade

Oliver Axer and Susanne Benze collect two dozen big-band recordings from Nazi Germany, illustrating the songs with footage from period musicals, cartoons, newsreels, propaganda, and home movies to create a swirling impressionistic collage of pop culture in the Third Reich. Unlike the directors of East Side Story (1996), which looked at musical comedies from the Soviet bloc, Axer and Benze dispense with any narration, interviews, or captioning of source material, making their rhetorical points through fluid editing as the silver-screen fantasy of a joyous fatherland is gradually punctured by shots of dead soldiers and doomed Jews. Given the beauty of some of the color animation and dance numbers—and the scant attention paid to this chapter in cinematic history—the filmmakers' ambitions seem rather limited. But the sheer magic of the music and images, and the horrors they concealed, put any receptive viewer in an unexpected and uncomfortable position. In German with subtitles. 76 min.

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