6 Movies Explain Why Europe Is in Such a Sad State

Trump landed in Europe like a lead weight. One writer called his speech at NATO headquarters a “disaster.” After the visit, the head of the German government mused that maybe Europe cannot depend on the U.S. anymore. Fair enough. In retrospect, Trump’s few days on the continent look like a bad blind date.

But it is not all the president’s fault.

While Trump was the target of anger, he is not the sole source of the problem. Truth is, Europe is at war with itself. The continent is dealing with uncertainty about the future of the European project, economic malaise, terrorism, refugees, and how to handle pesky neighbors like Putin and the Middle East. The debate over Europe’s future is messy and will likely get messier. Trump just walked into the middle of a family feud that is unlikely to end anytime soon.

World cinema can help explain this sorry state of affairs. The conditions making Europe sick have been incubating for a long time.  Here are six films that tell the story:

6. Triumph of the Will (1935)

Hitler asked his favorite filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, to make Nazism look cool. She directed, produced, edited, and co-wrote this film about the Nazi Party Congress of 1934. Recognized as one of the most dramatic pieces of propaganda ever filmed, Triumph of the Will is a powerful reminder of a dark past. Today, Europeans constantly fret about the reemergence of extremism. Unfortunately, they also lump in legitimate aspirations of nationalism and popular sovereignty, like the Brexit vote, as threats to freedom and liberty in Europe.