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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Holocaust > Architecture Of Doom

The Architecture of Doom


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



Peter Cohen wrote, produced, edited and directed The Architecture of Doom in 1991 and it holds up quite well for a film that at first seems to be covering familiar ground about Hitler’s methods.  However, what he manages to do is flush out, prove in fill in more fully the connection between propaganda, its abuse of choice art of the past, and how that leads to Hitler’s rise to power with genocide and war.  We see more detail that usual about how the Nazis labeled people and art degenerate and inferior.


This ethnic cleansing of both people and culture just did not happen in basic, simple ways as those who passively (if only basically accurate) can tell you for sure.  The examples are most fascinating.  The buildings of then-new Third Reich, the Fascist style we know of today, has its roots in the Greek and Roman cities of the past in both a metaphoric and physical way.  This film shows that more thoroughly than had been seen before.  Though this film misses this point, Hitler used the horribly disfigured faces of those who fought in WWI as a way to shock and repel people into anti-Semitism and rejection of others.  This included those of other ethnic persuasions, those malformed at birth, the mentally ill and the physically disabled.


Without that reference point, the film shows us the look of what is different and “the other”, while pushing his idea of the perfect, superior Arian body.  At first, the portrayal on the surface is one of “strength”, “health”, potent sexuality, and shows the obsession with the human form.  But quickly, what looks so masculine starts to look like the opposite, effeminate.  The heterosexual starts to look homoerotic.  The women also start looking odd quickly, while the culmination of these limited images of the “right way to look and be” begin to feel empty and pointless.  It is to this film’s credit that this comes across clearly to the viewer.  As for what this says about Hitler himself, that’s another story.


The full-screen 1.33 X 1 image mixes color and monochrome footage, old and new, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is just fine.  Both are mixed, as is always expected from such a mix of stills, film, and video.  Sam Gray’s narration is good, but Cohen’s writing is over descriptive, but you can never explain this thoroughly enough, so that is not a real problem.  The disc contains no extras.


This runs about two hours, but is one of the better documentaries produced on the subject, proved by the fact that it holds up all these years later, despite the huge upswing of such productions on the subject since.  John Cusack was recently behind a film called Max, for which he stared among other things, which portrays a younger Hitler discovering the power of propaganda on his way to power.  That should make for a very interesting comparison to Architecture of Doom, both shedding light on an under-examined-if-known part of the Nazi legacy.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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