'Forbidden Films' raises interesting moral arguments

( Unrated ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Films' centers on the Nazi-produced movies that are still banned in Germany from public showings or broadcasts. 

Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films
A scene from the 1941 Nazi propaganda film 'Homecoming' by Gustav Ucicky as seen in 'Forbidden Films.'

The documentary “Forbidden Films: The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Films,” directed by Felix Moeller, is about the 40 Nazi-produced movies that, except for closely monitored screenings in a scholarly context, are still banned in Germany from public showings or broadcasts.  

Some of the films, such as the notorious “The Eternal Jew” and “Jew Süss,” which was more popular in Germany in its day than “Titanic” was in the 1990s, are well known. But the documentary also includes clips from a range of anti-Russian/Polish/British/French propaganda films, as well as a pro-euthanasia melodrama, with talking-heads commentary mostly from German film historians and filmmakers (including Margarethe von Trotta). 

The film raises the question: Should these films – some of which, crude as they are, are still poisonous – be made available to the general public without restriction? The historical argument, it would seem to me, points to yes. The moral argument is far more complex. Grade: B+ (Unrated.)

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