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Television Under the Swastika - World War II documentary DVD review
TELEVISION UNDER THE SWASTIKA Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Kurt Hinzmann, Joseph Hoppe, Heinz Riek, Eugen Hadamovsky, Fritz Janek
Director: Michael Kloft   Studio: First Run Features
DVD release: 19 August 2008   Runtime: 54 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English, German - PCM 2.0 Stereo), Subtitles (English), WWII film gallery, Filmmaker biography

Television Under the Swastika is a 1999 film by Michael Kloft that details the rise of the television industry during the Third Reich. From 1935 to 1944, these television broadcasts were used to entertain, inform and, of course, as a propaganda machine by the government. Without passing any judgment on the content, Kloft presents a detailed story about the start of the industry, its founders, and their technological advances.

This film makes extensive use of actual film reels preserved in German archives since the end of World War II. These show two elements of early German television: in addition to the heavy propaganda, there was a strong use of everyday people in the broadcasts - man-on-the-street type interviews with everybody and nobody; farmers, merchants, and everyday people going on about their business.

While the archived footage is the star of the show, I was very interested in modern-day interviews with historians who went in great detail about the technological progression of the medium. Many conversations detail their attempts to overcome issues with this new technology, and those were quite fascinating in their own right.

This documentary is excellent; in its 52-minute run, almost a decade's worth of innovation and technological advances are covered. I strongly recommend it to anybody interested in historical footage or the history of this medium.

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reviewed by Ryan Strampe
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