Daily Archives: June 1, 1991

The Architecture Of Doom

A two-hour Swedish documentary by Peter Cohen, narrated in German by Bruno Ganz, that addresses the fascinating subject of Hitler’s aesthetics, with particular emphasis on the art that he made, admired, bought, and commissioned; his taste for Greek and Roman antiquities and grandiose architecture; and the ideological relationship between this taste and his extermination programs. Regrettably missing from this historical survey is Hitler’s cinephilia (before the war, according to Albert Speer, he used to screen two movies a night) and the grander perspectives offered by Hans-Jurgen Syberberg’s Hitler, a Film From Germany (1977). Solid (if a little stolid) as an essay film, it offers an excellent introduction to Nazi ideology. (JR) Read more


In style and overall approach, Amy Greenfield’s adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy (including some elements from Oedipus at Colonus) harks back to experimental filmmaking of the 60s and early 70s, particularly in the uses of modern dance and nature. Greenfield basically keeps the text offscreen, works with aggressive modernist music by several hands, and depends quite a bit on gestures, highly composed frames, and percussive, eclectic editing; at times the film seems divided between the idea that the tragedy is taking place in the deadpan faces and the idea that it’s happening in the bodies, settings, text, and music. (By and large, the music and dance are more compelling than the faces or the readings of the text, both of which aim at stoicism.) Not an easy film, nor one that entirely escapes the charge of rigor artis, but one that grapples constantly and seriously with the problem of translating dance into film, the camera playing as important a role in the choreography as Greenfield or any of the other dancers. (It lacks the humor and fleetness of The Red Shoes and Mammame, but given the source this is hardly surprising.) The ghost of Maya Deren seems to hover over the proceedings, for better and for worse. Read more