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Film and the Third Reich


March 5 (Monday) 9 pm

Hitler Youth Quex (Hitlerjunge Quex)

Directed by Hans Steinhoff
Germany 1933, 35mm, b/w, 87 min.
With Heinrich George, Berta Drews, Jürgen Ohlsen
German with English subtitles

When Joseph Goebbels became Hitler’s minister of propaganda, he initiated a program of Nazi films, beginning with this adaptation of a novel based on the real-life murder in 1932 of a twelve-year-old Hitler schoolboy by Communists in Berlin—an event already exploited by Goebbels. In the film, young Heini rejects the rowdiness of the Communist Youth for the discipline of the Hitler Youth, and is soon nicknamed Quex—quicksilver—for his tireless enthusiasm.

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March 12 (Monday) 9 pm

The Emperor of California (Der Kaiser von Kalifornien)

Directed by Luis Trenker
Germany 1936, 35mm, b/w, 97 min.
With Marcella Albani, Elise Aulinger, Berta Drews
German with English subtitles

The Emperor of California was originally to have been a Hollywood project for Sergei Eisenstein. Instead, German actor-director Luis Trenker scripted a political allegory about a European revolutionary who flees to America in 1834, where he becomes the leader of an immigrant community and later gains power as a senator and U.S. army general before he is finally brought down. Winner of the Best Film award at Venice in 1936, the film was banned by both the Americans and Russians after World War II as a result of Trenker’s work for the Third Reich.

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March 19 (Monday) 9 pm

La Habañera

Directed by Detlef Sierck (Douglas Sirk)
Germany 1937, 16mm, b/w, 100 min.
With Zarah Leander, Ferdinand Marian, Karl Martell
German with English subtitles

La Habañera portrays a Scandinavian woman’s foreign affair––a romance with an exotic landscape, a seductive song, and a Latin lover. Astrée goes astray and surrenders to a reckless moment. The paradise quickly loses its luster as she becomes a veritable hostage, bound to a tyrant who torments her. Her only solace is her young son, with whom she imagines life back in the snow of Sweden. La Habañera is a consummate example of Nazi cinema’s own foreign affair: its conscious attempt to appropriate the Hollywood melodrama for domestic audiences.


April 9 (Monday) 9 pm

Münchausen

Directed by Josef von Baky
Germany 1943, 16mm, b/w, 100 min.
With Hans Albers, Brigitte Horney, Ferdinand Marian
German with English subtitles

As the centerpiece for Ufa’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, Münchausen offered Germans reeling from news of defeat in Stalingrad a welcome escape. Created in conjunction with the Ministry of Propaganda, the film enacts the definitive Aryan fantasy in this tale of a man who masters his own destiny and marshals the march of time. The protagonist’s legendary powers become employed in Hitler’s war effort, literally cast in the role of a wonder weapon––the illusory means by which the Ministry of Propaganda sought to reanimate a paralyzed nation. A popular vehicle and the product of a world war, Münchausen represents one of the Third Reich’s consummate cinematic achievements.

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April 16 ( Monday) 9 pm

Mrs. Miniver

Directed by William Wyler
US 1942, 35mm, b/w, 134 min.
With Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright

It’s been said that Mrs. Miniver was such a potent propaganda film for Britain that it influenced the undecided Americans to join the war. More than half a century later, it still manages to convey the spirit and determination exhibited by the British people in the face of Nazi expansion, without resorting to the sappy sentimentality so often exhibited in films of this era. The tale of an average "middle-class British family" and its struggle to maintain normal life during wartime, Mrs. Miniver remains a powerful film.

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April 23 (Monday) 9:30 pm

Rambo: First Blood Part II

Directed by George P. Cosmatos
US 1985, 35mm, color, 94 min.
With Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier

The ultimate "Army of One" film, Rambo: First Blood Part II is a testosterone-laden fairy tale of one man’s fight to free a Vietnam POW. After being recruited from a prison camp and sent to present-day Vietnam to "take pictures" as proof that American MIAs are really prisoners of war, John Rambo goes ballistic and tries to rescue one of the prisoners. He’s captured and tortured by the Vietnamese, but as one might expect from a Sylvester Stallone movie, Rambo cannot be held or defeated by anyone.

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April 29 (Sunday) 9 pm

Schindler's List

Directed by Steven Spielberg
US 1993, 35mm, b/w, 195 min.
With Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes

Schindler’s List presents an indelible story of devastation, genocide, and the triumph of human faith. Winner of seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, the film is based on a true story and adapted from Thomas Keneally’s 1982 award-winning book which recounts how Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, overcame unbelievable odds to protect and then rescue more than 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust during World War II.

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