Films-on-Demogogues

FILMS ON HITLER

Triumph of the Will

Documentary 1934 NR 120 minutes. Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous propaganda film documenting the Third Reich’s 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally features a cast of thousands — including Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Rudolf Hess, Hermann Goering and other top officials. Images of cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, banners lining Nuremberg’s streets and Hitler’s climactic speech illustrate with chilling clarity how Germany fell under his spell.

The Double Headed Eagle:
Hitler’s Rise to Power 1918-1933

Documentary 1973 NR 86 minutes. Filmmaker Lutz Becker sifted through hundreds of yards of archive and newsreel footage from 1918 to 1933 for this objective, journalistic look at the rise of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler.

Hitler: The Rise of Evil

Docudrama 2003 NR 189 minutes. This TV biopic profiles history’s most spectacular madman, tracing his journey from humble roots to complete mastery of Germany. Starring Robert Carlyle as the Fuhrer, the film shows the link between Hitler’s rise and Germany’s economic woes.

The Nazis: A Warning from History

Documentary 1997 NR 2 discs. Through archival footage and interviews with those who survived Adolph Hitler’s reign — including unrepentant Nazis — this comprehensive documentary series sheds new light on the rise of the Third Reich in Germany. Chapters reveal how the Nazi state compelled ordinary people to commit atrocities, the order and disorder within the German army, and Hitler’s propensity for getting his minions to do his work, among other enlightening facts.

The Wave
(Die Welle)

Docudrama 2008 NR 1hr 47m. To give his students a real-world example of how dictatorships can grow powerful, a high school teacher in Germany conducts a social experiment. Based on an experiment that took place at a Palo Alto California high school in 1967 (albeit with a much less dramatic ending), this is a cautionary tale about the roots of fascism. Ron Jones, the teacher whose 1967 experiment “The Third Wave” on which the film was based, also attended the screening in San Francisco at the “Berlin and Beyond Film Festival” 2009 and answered questions following the viewing, which made the events that had taken place within the film all the more real and haunting. In the film instructor Rainer Wenger is unnable to reach his students through customary teaching methods, and decides on a controversial approach in teaching autocracy. Beginning with well-placed homilies about unity and cooperation, he suggests class uniforms and a group name. Some students switch to another class, disturbed by Wenger’s mode of instruction, while some of those remaining take the lessons to heart in increasingly disturbing ways. What develops is a heightening conflict which finally erupts with surprising and memorable results. At its core this film is about the need to belong and serves as a chilling allegory of fascism. Like the students in the film I started out thinking ‘This could never happen today’. But the way that it was presented, I totally understood why something like this could happen. A must see!

 

FILMS ON HUEY LONG

Huey Long

Documentary Ken Burns’ America 1985 NR 1hr 30m. The world of American politics has long been peopled with interesting characters — but few of them have been more colorful than Huey P. Long. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns captures the charisma that made Long the people’s politician, the “Kingfish.” This documentary explores Long’s life as a child, his ascent to power and his assassination in 1935.

All the King’s Men (1949)

Docudrama 1949 NR 110 minutes. Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) is a model politician — until he’s corrupted by the very system he tries to reform. Based on the cautionary Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards. It won Best Picture, as well as Best Actor and Actress for stars Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge (later the voice of the possessed Regan in The Exorcist). Stark’s character is based on Louisiana governor Huey Long.

All the King’s Men (2006)

Docudrama 2006 PG-13 128 minutes. Sean Penn stars as corrupt Southern politician Willie Stark — a charismatic man who wins the populist vote but, behind closed doors, is as underhanded as those he smeared — in this remake of an Oscar-winning 1949 film of the same name. Ex-reporter Jack Burden (Jude Law) unwittingly helps Stark gain political power, but it’s just a matter of time before the governor’s crooked dealings are exposed.

FILMS ON McCARTHY

Good Night, and Good Luck

Docudrama 2005 PG 93 minutes. George Clooney’s Oscar-nominated docudrama pits veteran television newsman Edward R. Murrow against a determined Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his single-minded crusade to quell the threat of communism in America. defy corporate and sponsorship pressures, and discredit the tactics used by Joseph McCarthy during his crusade to root out Communist elements within the government.Murrow first defends Milo Radulovich, who is facing separation from the U.S. Air Force because of his sister’s political leanings and because his father is subscribed to a Serbian newspaper. Murrow makes a show on McCarthy attacking him. A very public feud develops when McCarthy responds by accusing Murrow of being a communist.

Trumbo

Documentary 2007 PG-13 96 minutes. After failing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, successful screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted in Hollywood. This documentary details Trumbo’s life through personal letters, interviews and archival footage.

Point of Order

Documentary 1964 NR 93 minutes. Filmmaker Emile de Antonio’s intriguing documentary about the Army-McCarthy hearings serves as a fascinating historical record, compiling the televised footage that aired live for 36 days — from April 22 to May 24, 1954. During the hearings, the Senate Committee on Government Operations investigated the Army’s honorable discharge of Maj. Irving Peress, who had refused to fill out a Loyalty Board questionnaire.

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