How does an entire nation of reasonable, rational people become willing party to mass murder? Could it be the cool tunes?
That’s (sort of) the question posed by this ingenious archive montage: a collection of rare footage recalling though a warm nostalgic haze the camaraderie, vaudevillian japes and wholesome outdoor fun of Nazi Germany – all set to pleasant music hall melodies sanctioned by the Third Reich. The effect is mesmerising, enticing and profoundly disturbing, as Hitler’s Hit Parade avoids the usual propaganda of majesty and austerity to concentrate on clips that say ‘Hey, come join the fun!’.
It’s the beguiling innocence and charm of the thing that’s make it so effective – gently drawing you in until, once you’re smiling and tapping your foot, it reminds you what you’re really watching. It’s a similar mechanism to the Biergarten scene in Cabaret, but with the immediacy of genuine footage. Some just find it funny, others frightening – but for a documentary with no narrative and little discernable structure, it makes a deeply affecting point. Can TV make genocide seem okay? See how you feel about it. OS