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Black Sun: The Mythological Background Of National Socialism

Black Sun: The Mythological Background Of National Socialism

by Rüdiger Sünner , Director
Icarus Film, Brooklyn, NY, 2009
DVD, 90 mins., col.
Sales, $440
Distributor’s address:  http://www.icarus films.com.

Reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
Economics Università Europea di Roma
Rome. Italy


This film was originally produced and distributed in 1997, but as far as I understand it was shown only through TV channels––mostly cultural channels like ARTE––in the Federal Republic of Germany and France. The DVD edition is an excellent proposal for a more general distribution, both through TV channels as a teaching device in the course of modern history, including modern economic history. It is in German, with English sub-titles, and combines skillful rare archival footage (mostly from information reels of the 1920s and 1930s) with contemporary scenes shot in historic placet, as well as a limited number of interviews with present day scholars.

It brings to a large audience interesting and, to a certain extent, new views of the origins of Nazism as well as on the strong consensus Hitler’s political movement had in Germany and in other countries of German culture and language. In short, whereas many documentary films have explored the economics and the politics of the irresistible rise of  Nazism – viz. the economic disarray caused by war reparations and high inflation as well as the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic institutions – Black Sun delves on the mystical and exoteric determinants of the movement. Nazism’s occult roots in the world of myth, symbol and fantasies date back to the writing and “intellectual” clubs of various mystics at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th Centuries ; they located the original “home” of the German peoples in sunken continents such as Thules and Atlantis and traced the mythology of the superior race, who fought against the forces of moral decadence and impurity. Later in the first half of the 20th Century, with Nazism in power (or about to get to full control of Germany and Austria), other pseudo-scientists conducted anthropological and archeological research in places as distant as Tibet and Peru to confirm their theorems of the “master race” (and of its religion); after the sinking of their continents – the most advanced areas of the globe before the natural disaster (e.g. a tsumani) which destroyed them – such a “master race” would have reached the eight of mountain plateaux in Asia and Latin America. The footage on the anthropological and archeological research is especially interesting; it is very rare and it show not only racial but also “Lombroso” theories at work. In the film, it is also incorporated some footage of  Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens , a real masterpiece, albeit a propaganda movie, on the 1934 Nazi Congress in Nuremberg ; it is a clear indication of the skills of the German film industry in the 1930s. The interviews with today’s scholars are less impressive and less eloquent than the images.

The main contention of the film is that Nazism was a religion more than a political party or movement. Thus, it searched its origins way back into the history of mankind, it built its liturgies , it constructed its rituals and worship symbols. It is contention already presented in scholarly literature (even in economic history literature); but it is, I believe, the first time to be the core of a full length movie meant for a wide general audience. The forceful argument made in the 90 minutes film is that Nazism’s success was largely due to a need and a demand for religion unmet by the Christian denominations (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) present in Germany a century ago. It is a disturbing and disquieting contention, also because the film shows how the “cult” sites of Nazism are still attracting youngsters in search for a religion different from the Christian faiths and rooted in the depths of their own historical, and ethnical, origins. In interviews, some of these youngsters state strongly that they are not the heir of the hippies and yuppies of the 1960s and 1970s; their search for a different and less materialistic way of living is rooted in their German ancestors of several centuries (or even millennia) ago.

The film ends with a warning: in today’s Europe: Traditional Christian denominations are losing grounds, mostly in terms of attendance to religious services. Could this be the virus for a new search of alternative, and dangerous, religione? It is a warning worth reflecting about. In sum, a good educational material for classes of a large variety of subjects.

Last Updated 1 February, 2010

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