The history of Hitler's war against modern art is sandwiched between black-and-white footage of the original Degenerate Art exhibition in 1937 and color footage of the 1991 reconstructed display in this concisely edited documentary. Clocking in at only 55 minutes, the film establishes the future dictator's failed attempt at a career in traditional painting and his contempt for the success of modern art. It tracks World War I's effect on both Germany's art community and its economy, paralleling Der Fuhrer's rise to power. Eyewitnesses and scholars describe the 1937 graffiti-strewn sideshow of a presentation meant to humiliate and thus destroy the artists. After the riveting stories of careers ruined, work destroyed in order to avoid concentration camps, and Hitler's seemingly contradictory fascination with nudes, viewers are left to mull on their own any connection with today's continued efforts to restrict art in the name of societal preservation. --Kimberly Heinrichs
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