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‘Forbidden Films’

On the NYRblog, Francine Prose writes about Forbidden Films, Felix Moeller’s excellent documentary about “the hidden legacy of Nazi film”:

The questions that animate Forbidden Films—Should these films be publicly shown? Who should be allowed to see them and under what circumstances?—are raised and returned to, considered and reconsidered. How can a society weigh its belief in free expression against its anxiety about the possible consequences of that freedom? The matter of free speech vs. hate speech is always a thorny and vexed one; here the complications surrounding these issues are magnified by the horrors of twentieth-century German history, by the ways in which contemporary Germans view that history, and finally by the fact that these officially “banned” films are in fact available; they can be watched (in a somewhat degraded form) on YouTube and ordered from Neo-Nazi web sites. The two former neo-Nazis, who appear in silhouette, describe watching The Eternal Jew—arguably the most odious and extreme of the anti-Semitic Nazi films—at gatherings of right-wingers who are drinking beer, laughing, and reciting the text (which they know by heart) along with the voice-over narration. One of them says that “a normal thirteen or fourteen year-old” won’t ask to see Jew Süss, but “people who are already exposed to the scene” want to see the films, which they’ve heard about. “It’s a way to come into contact with people, and bring friends…And these people can be indoctrinated.”

For more information, visit zeitgeistfilms.com.

Category: Film
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