Highways to the Reich (1986)

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Much has been written about the Autobahn as a product of the Nazi's authoritarian regime. Still commonly known as "Hilter's road," the Autobahn was not actually, contrary to legend, Hitler's or the Nazi's idea. In fact, the automobile and construction industries had been planning the massive project prior to the Nazi's ascension to political power. Regardless, the Autobahn was the crown jewel of the Nazi's massive revision of the German landscape and has come to symbolize their aesthetics of progress. Hartmut Bitomsky's documentary investigates the changing meanings of the Autobahn for the German people. Once a cultural monument, not the shortest but the noblest distance between two points, the Autobahn is now a constant reminder of Germany's troubled past. In particular, Bitomsky uses the Autobahn to elucidate the elusive connections between the German consciousness and traces of Nazi ideology. Both a practical history of the Autobahn's construction and an examination of its cultural meaning, Highways to the Reich is an important film in the tradition of critical cinema.