What is the perfect body - and how do you get it? People were already grappling with these questions 100 years ago. Wilhelm Prager's and Nicholas Kaufmann's documentary "Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit" (Ways to Strength and Beauty), filmed in 1925 for the UFA cultural department, first criticises modern society, which weakens and deforms the human body through industrial work and office activities. According to the motto "A healthy mind lives in a healthy body", the didactically prepared educational film aims in six chapters at a re-appropriation of a physical ideal state according to the model of antiquity and propagates above all physical training for this purpose.
The most radical thing about Prager's film is its revealing imagery: the naked or scantily clad human body is literally celebrated in stylised documentary scenes during the most diverse activities - body care, gymnastics, sport and dance. In the 1920s, this struck a chord with the times: it was an expression of a new body consciousness that had been established since the beginning of the 20th century in the form of the life reform movement and naturalism. But "Ways to Strength and Beauty" is also a valuable film-historical document that can be seen as an ideological precursor of the National Socialist cult of the body, as it was later celebrated in propaganda films by Leni Riefenstahl, for example. Riefenstahl appears in Prager's film as an extra in a dance group.