Pictures of Germany (1984)

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Hartmut Bitomsky, the dean of German documentary filmmaking, has created another wonderful film that investigates the intersection between culture, history, and the German consciousness. For Pictures of Germany, Bitomsky turns his attention to German's cinematic history. Composed of excerpts from more than thirty documentary films made between 1933 and 1945, the film, through judicious use of montage, presents Germans as they were recorded and imagined in Nazi-era film. These pieces reveal a populace in love with nature and acolytes of progress, but in their juxtaposition they reveal a darker side. It's with a disturbing and consistent regularity that the interviewees admit to these interests and one feels their words are often masking a wealth of hidden emotion. Unnoticeable in the Nazi films, Bitomsky's skillful editing deconstructs these images and brings their concealed ideology into the foreground. As a result, these Germans of the Nazi era have a chance to speak again and filmgoers have a unique opportunity to glimpse the complexities of the German consciousness during this pivotal period.