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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > World War II > Mein Kampf (VCI/DVD-Video)

Mein Kampf (DVD-Video/VCI)


Picture: C-     Sound: C-     Extras: D     Films: B



Mein Kampf is an older but still interesting documentary that was made in 1961 and initially released by Columbia Pictures.  It's comprised entirely of rare Nazi footage and still photographs, and details greatly how Hitler rose to power and his exploits beyond.  The film carries something of an unusual tone in the way it carries itself, and because of these rare glimpses at original footage of wartime proceedings, it becomes even more powerful and shocking as it progresses and situations worsen.  But even in one of the first scenes shown, when a ship is capsized in front of the rolling camera, you're completely sucked into the situation and rendered breathless more so than you could be through a reenactment of any kind. Nothing can compare to the eerie feeling you get from witnessing this.

Although this documentary shows multiple signs of age - both in it’s approach and it’s wear from the years, it still manages to keep pace and often crams in more information than a lot of newer documentaries attempt to.  Because of this, it might also seem a bit tedious, if only it wasn't for the well-purposed use of the stock footage at hand.  As blunt as it may be, it still holds your attention for some time.  One thing that should be made clear is that this film does not side with the Nazi point of view or place them in an ideal light. Some might think otherwise upon hearing the title and seeing the artwork that was chosen to represent the disc.  These choices were probably not in the best of tastes; and while I suppose it is more attention getting the way it is, it also leads the buyer into believing that the film is even more graphic and even a completely different type of program than what you’d expect otherwise.


As for the current look of the film, it would have been nice to see this print surviving in better shape.  However, it must be considered that the footage was already about 20 years old upon this film’s initial release; and adding to that, wartime conditions aren’t exactly ideal for filming to begin with.  So with that considered, this probably doesn’t look as bad as was possible or even likely for a film of this type.


Apart from the feature documentary, there is also a shorter, undated one that came out of Britain; titled simply Adolf Hitler.  Some of the information from the main feature naturally repeats, but this film sometimes delves into a very slightly more “whimsical” tone.  Not that the information is taken lightly, it just gives off a peculiar feel of it's own.  Maybe it’s a feeling only I got while watching, but perhaps it had something to do with the film‘s narration in some way.


Sadly, this film is even worse off than the other is, and much of what remains is damaged throughout.  However, it still remains watchable and is perhaps an alternative for use in the classroom.  On that note, I'm not sure if the two documentaries here would be well suited for modern teaching purposes, as the styles are simply dated; and because of the slower pacing, not all of the information will run across to students in the desired way.  This disc is more geared to history and war buffs and perhaps educational viewing for a college-level audience who could probably sit through it longer without unintentionally nodding off.

Both films are in black and white and their quality, as mentioned above, is a bit of a toss-up.  But due to the age and likely condition of the surviving prints, all is understandable.  As for sound, nothing much has really been doctored up here either, and I suspect that both films are presented in mono, or at best a much older stereo mix.

If you want to depart from the modern style of documentaries for a bit for some reason or other, or just get a glimpse and reminder of what actual war really looks like, then these films are recommended viewing.



-   David Milchick


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