BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE RAPE OF EUROPA

By • Oct 5th, 2008 •

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Most people tend to forget that Hitler was a struggling artist. His paintings were poorly received and left him frustrated. He believed that those who created “modern art” could not see things the way they were supposed to be seen and that it was a sign of racial inferiority. So when he finally seized his power it was a main priority of his to manipulate what kind of art Germany would display and what kind of art would be censured. He even created a “degenerate art” museum that toured Germany.

At its core, the film suggests that Hitler’s obsession with art was a major factor in motivating his political and military goals. As we watch the incredibly rare historical footage, and listen to Joan Allen’s perfectly delivered narration, we start to realize, that Hitler’s plan for exterminating art was carried out as brutally and efficiently as his horrific genocide. He “purged” museums, ridding them of their Picasso’s and Van Gough’s.

Like a good war film or thriller the documentary is quickly paced and exciting. It takes us on the journey that explains how these pieces of art were eventually found and restored, all through the eyes of historians and the people who lived through it.

In a chilling moment towards the end of the film we learn that in Hitler’s final hours he was obsessing over an architectural project, and in his will he requested that a Museum be built to house his art collection after his death. Further proof that Hitler cared as much about carrying out his plans for the fate of art as he did for the fate of the people he destroyed.

The DVD is justifiably without extras. Everything you’d ever want to know about the subject is covered within THE RAPE OF EUROPA, a beautiful and informative portrait (no pun intended), vast in scope and time, of a piece of history that people hardly know anything about. I think its most powerful exploration is that of the freedom and endurance of art and the hypocrisy with which Hitler carried out his censorship of it.

THE RAPE OF EUROPA was written, produced and directed by Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen and Nicole Newnham. It is based on the book of the same name by Lynn H. Nicholas.

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