The Nazis in 3D?


We are now beginning to feel that 3D filmmaking is definitely something that's here to stay and that format is now becoming quite old, but only in the past few years has it really transformed from the in-theatre gimmicks that I remember from the 1980s to a viable creative path to follow during the production process. While the medium was first popularized in the 1950s, it turns out that experimentation with 3D effects in movie making goes back much further. As with many technological advances of the mid 20th century, it seems the Nazis got there first.

Recently discovered in the Berlin Federal Archives were a pair of propaganda films from pre-war Nazi Germany, The 30-minute black and white creations were discovered by Australian filmmaker Philippe Mora, who is currently working on a documentary looking at how the Nazis used imagery to manipulate reality.
The films are shot on 35mm, apparently with a prism in front of two lenses and they were made by an independent studio for Third Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels propaganda ministry in 1936, a full 16 years before the format first became briefly popular in the US. They are referred to as 'raum film' or 'space film'  which may be why no one ever realised since that they were 3D. Mora believes the existence of the 35mm Nazi films confirms the Germans were decades ahead as the first stereoscopic movies did not reach Hollywood on a commercial scale until 1953 with the release of AndrĂ© de Toth's House of Wax, starring Vincent Price.

One of the films is a carnival-set musical called So Real You Can Touch It. The other, Six Girls Roll Into Weekend, features German starlets living the high life. “The quality of the films is fantastic,” Mora said. “The Nazis were obsessed with recording everything and every single image was controlled — it was all part of how they gained control of the country and its people.”
Mora plans to work some of the 3D content into his upcoming documentary, going by the working title How the Third Reich Was Recorded. Now that he’s got a tag to search for, these so-called “raum films,” Mora will continue to search for additional examples of early 3D filmmaking from the Federal Archives.
Mora, who believes there may be more Third Reich 3D footage hidden away in Germany or elsewhere, is something of an expert on the successes of Nazi film-makers. In his 1973 film Swastika, he debuted colour footage of private home movies made by Hitler and his partner, Eva Braun, at Obersalzberg in the Bavarian alps.