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Contemporary debates, German Film, German History

Could Goebbels have filmed “Avatar”?

During orientation week, new ASC German student Andrea Harris and I had a chat about German films and she mentioned to me an article that talked about the Nazis having shot 3D movies. She sent me the piece, and I thought I give a quick summary.

Indeed, digging around in the Berlin Filmarchiv, Australian director Philippe Mora had found two black-and-white films shot with a prism in front of two lenses to create a better sense of three-dimensional space; hence the German term “Raumfilme” for this technique.

So, is this how Hitler watched films?

(Picture: http://www.futuredimensions.net/wp-content/uploads/hitler3d.jpg)

No. Film historians are not very surprised, some of them claim to have known about the experiments all along. The two films themselves are not particularly sensational or political: one is a spot for a life insurance company, the other shows Bratwursts on a grill at a local “Fest.” The German newspaper Die Welt seems a bit insulted that Australian Mora heralds his findings under the banner of “Nazi 3D films,” accusing him of sensationalism. But, then, Die Welt’s headline reads “Schon zu Nazi-Zeiten wurde an 3D-Filmen gearbeitet [Already the Nazis have worked on 3D films]”–not exactly an academically sober title either.


About GG

Gundolf Graml is Associate Prof. and Dir. of German Studies at Agnes Scott College. He has a Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of Minnesota and has published articles on German and Austrian film and tourism. He is currently writing a book about tourism and Austrian national identity after 1945. Other research projects include critical whiteness studies and, most recently, investigations into the connection between memory and nature. At ASC, Gundolf Graml teaches courses on a broad range of topics, from German 101 to German and Austrian Cinema and Afro-German History and Culture.


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