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Inside the Third Reich: 10th Anniversary Edition - documentary DVD review
INSIDE THE THIRD REICH BOX SET Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Kenneth Branagh
Director: Michael Kloft   Studio: First Run Features
DVD release: 21 April 2009   Runtime: 358 min. (4 discs)
Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (English, German), Firestorm, Amateur film footage of Berlin 1947, The Reich Underground, Television Under the Swastika, The Goebbels Experiment, Filmmaker biography, WWII DVD gallery,

Inside the Third Reich is a compilation of four of First Run Features' releases focusing on Germany during the Second World War. I'll break them down into their components:

Television Under the Swastika exposes the world's first television broadcasters and how they manipulated their content to conform to the Nazi Party's agenda. The Germans were the first to broadcast television on a regular basis in the 1930s, including the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. While it was a delivery system for propaganda, it never really took off as such. The only citizens well-off enough to afford a television were already drinking the Kool-Aid of national socialism. Still, fascinating to see the kind of things that Germany broadcast as the first TV broadcasters on the planet.

The Goebbels Experimentis a biopic of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda. From his diary entries between 1924 and 1945, we get a peek inside the mind of the wimpy blowhard from the early days of the rise of the National Socialist movement to the time of his death. Narrated entirely in his own words (spoken by Kenneth Branagh), and accompanied by footage of Goebbels and the subjects on which he spoke, The Goebbels Experiment provides a unique picture of a man born with a gimpy foot, underconfident with women and critical of those he worked with - including Hitler.

Firestorm is a heartbreaking documentary about the carpet bombing of Germany by the Allies during World War II, bringing into focus the awful truth about what many believe to be the most necessary war of the modern age. In a time of war, the proper way to wage the conflict is to destroy the enemy's war machines and the infrastructure used to produce it. Kloft's film makes the point crystal-clear that Great Britain and the U.S. used excessive force in their bombing raids and minimum precision, dropping nearly 1.4 million bombs. Thousands of planes were used in these day and night attacks on Germany, destroying homes, schools, and the lives of the German people. Large amounts of incendiary weapons produce a firestorm that sucks all the air out of the area to feed itself and deprive humans of oxygen.

The Reich Underground details the extensive plans made by the Third Reich to move production of war machines underground, build subterranean shelters for the public and the Nazi elite, and hide stolen treasures in salt mines. Germany knew that there'd be pretty extensive bombing later in the war, so they made plans early on to bring control of the Reich underground. Director Michael Kloft brings his cameras underground to bunkers under cities, under mountains, and under hills to show us what hasn't been seen for decades. What he discovers is fascinating if not controversial. Had the Third Reich followed through more on their plans or with more focused attention, the war might well have lasted much longer than it did.

Inside the Third Reich is an excellent collection of some of Michael Kloft's best work. A fine addition to any war buff's collection.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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