Leni Riefenstahl

Leni Riefenstahl ‘s movies gave the universe the permanent images of Nazi Germany, whether in the signifier of propaganda or as she claims, in a wholly historical sense. Following the 2nd universe war, Leni Reifenstahl was both praised and put down for her parts to the Nazi Party through her movies. Some historical arguments province she was making propaganda movies wittingly and intentionally for the Nazi government while others have succumbed to her inexorable protest that she was simply making movies that reflected her proficient creativeness, artistic achievements and the history of the clip period. Riefenstahl began her calling as a terpsichorean and actress, but it was her movies of the 1934 Nazi party mass meeting and of the Berlin Olympics two old ages subsequently that brought her prewar acclamation and postwar opprobrium. Her movies of the Nuremberg mass meetings were stated by historian Susan Sontag as being “the most strictly propagandist movies of all time made” , while others argue that her movies could non be cited every bit propaganda as they lacked many of the elements that would traditionally do them so. Riefenstahl ‘s movie made of the of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Olympia, possibly raises much of the argument environing whether Leni Riefenstahl was making propaganda instead than documenting history as many analysts and historiographers have perceived elements of Nazi political orientation through her pioneering movie techniques. Amidst all of the claims made against her for over half a century, Leni Riefenstahl remained relentless in denying the allegations made against her ; whether she was a Nazi sympathizer and propagandist or strictly an creative person. However, through the allegations made against her and her movies, either manner there is no uncertainty sing that “through her lens, Leni Riefenstahl gave the universe the permanent images of Nazi Germany” .

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Helene ( Leni ) Berta Amalie Riefenstahl was born in Berlin in 1902 and began her calling as a terpsichorean, when waiting at a train station after badly wounding her articulatio genus, she saw a posting for a mountain movie directed by Dr Arnold Fanck. Becoming instantly inspired, she took up moving in Fanck ‘s movies which so led her to direct, edit and perform in the movie Das Blaue Licht ( The Blue Light ) in 1932. After finishing a European circuit advancing the movie, she returned to Berlin to happen her metropolis filled with Nazi propaganda. Curious, she attended a Nazi Party rally held at SportsPalast where she saw Adolf Hitler speak. She reflected in a ulterior interview ; “He radiated something really powerful… Something which had a sort of hypnotic consequence. That frightened me a little.” Leni requested a meeting with Hitler to which he accepted, holding antecedently admired her work, and confronted her with the thought of doing his party movies. Harmonizing to Dr Fritz Hippler, the Reich Director – General of movie ; “Riefenstahl was lucky, of class, in acquiring on footings with Hitler… before there was any talk of his prehending power. At that early phase, she had already won for herself Hitler ‘s blessing and involvement.” However, Leni declined the offer, but would come to accept his offer in August 1933.

Riefenstahl had ever been in denial about her part to any of the Nazi propaganda and maintains that all of her movies were created for documental intents. The first of her movies of the Nuremberg mass meetings, Der Sieg des Glaubens ( Victory of Faith ) , was considered pure propaganda by many, and until her decease, Leni Riefenstahl was loath to admit it due to the deficiency of artistic accomplishment shown. Victory of Faith was the first movie directed by Leni of the NSDAP party mass meeting in Nuremberg between the 30th of August and 3rd of September in 1933. The chief scenes of the movie include Hilter ‘s reaching in Nuremberg, the welcoming of the NSDAP, the gap of Congress, the Zeppelinweise Parade of NSDAP leaders, Hitler Youth study and Hitler ‘s address at the terminal of the movie. The movie contained few explanatory rubrics and no commentary. A point of involvement, possibly, is shown through the leader of the SA, Ernst Rohm depicted by Hitler ‘s side, seemingly on the same degree, and besides shown discoursing with him, proposing a close relationship. Victory of Faith was shown to the general populace between December 1933 and January 1934. It was withdrawn from circulation and most of the prints were destroyed, following the “Night Of Long Knives” , during which, Hitler had his old friend, Rohm, executed.

Riefenstahl ‘s following measure is one of the chief grounds it is believed that she was making propaganda instead than documenting history. She was one time more commissioned by Hitler to make a movie of the Nuremberg Party Rally held in September of 1934. The movie, Triumpf des Willens ( Triumph of the Will ) was considered to be more of a remaking than a subsequence to her old Victory of Faith in which Leni Riefenstahl was disappointed. However, she remained loath to go on shooting the party mass meeting, claiming she had been drafted by Hitler into doing it and had really small pick about the movie, every bit good as saying that she was given merely two hebdomads to be after the movie and lived in changeless hope that the undertaking would be given to person else. The claims made by Riefenstahl were contradicted in Joseph Goebell ‘s journal where he stated that she was given 10 hebdomads to be after the movie.

Victory of the Will is considered to be one of the greatest documental movies and most powerful propaganda tools of all time made, and shows that Riefenstahl was a maestro of originative documental film-making. In the movie, the alterations that had occurred in Nazi Germany since Victory of Faith are apparent. Himmler, caput of the SS, replaces Rohm in his topographic point by Hitler ‘s side and the new leader of the SA is hardly, reflecting the loss of power of the SA and the tallness of power of the SS. Triumph of the Will ‘s chief scenes and characteristics include: Hitler ‘s reaching, the common people parade, the gap of the Congress, Lutze ‘s reference to the SA, the Hitler Youth, the Army reappraisal, the Parade and the Rally shutting. Victory of the Will was shown throughout Germany to a public audience and is still extremely regarded as a chef-d’oeuvre.

Leni Riefenstahl ‘s following movie, or the 3rd and concluding in the Nuremberg Rally movies, was called Tag der Freiheit! — Unsere Wehrmacht! ( Day of Freedom! – Our Armed Forces! ) and depicted a jubilation of the Nazi military government. A sequence of events include the presentation of the Wehrmacht, Hitler ‘s Address to his forces and the Wehrmacht in full exercising. It is said that in this movie, a warning of things to come is depicted with a mock conflict staged by German military personnels. The camera follows the soldiers from their early-morning readyings as they march to the huge parade evidences where a illumination war affecting foot, horse, aircraft, flak guns and the first public visual aspect of Germany ‘s new out armored combat vehicle is presented before Hitler and 1000s of witnesss. The movie ends with a collage of Nazi flags and a shooting of German planes winging operating expense in a swastika formation.

Leni ‘s concluding movie made during the World War II epoch possibly sparks most of the argument refering whether she was documenting history or making propaganda. In 1936, Riefenstahl was commissioned by the International Olympics Committee to do the official movie of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The consequence was Olympia, a two portion movie ( The Festival of Nations and The Festival of Beauty ) that established case in points for filmed athleticss coverage that continue to the present twenty-four hours, every bit good as invented new devices to ease the cinematography. Hitler is shown few times on the movie – the major subdivision that does is the gap ceremonial, filmed in a straightforward docudrama method. The critical acclamation for Olympia began with the movie ‘s premiere on April 20th, 1938, in Berlin. It was acclaimed by many different authoritiess and award awards and accomplishments from different states. Following the release of Olympia, she traveled to the United States of America to advance the movie. The circuit coincided with the ill-famed Kristallnacht of force against the Jews, when an estimated 20, 000 were carted away to concentration cantonments and tonss were murdered. A run made by the American Anti-Nazi League ensured that she received hapless imperativeness coverage. An advertizement placed in the Hollywood Reporter on the 29th of November, 1938, provinces ; “THERE IS NO ROOM IN HOLLWOOD FOR LENI RIEFENSTAHL! In this minute, when 100s of 1000s of our brethren await certain decease, near your doors to all Nazi agents.” She was unable to happen an American distributor for her movie.

Through her lens, Leni Riefenstahl gave the universe the permanent images of Nazi Germany, but were they visions of history or fabricated and propagandised? Leni Riefenstahl has been described as an egoist, driven by aspiration and non as politically guiltless as she claimed ; instead as person who took advantage of every state of affairs for personal benefit without respect for the moral effects. Harmonizing to her camera operator, Hans Ertl ; “Leni made docudramas, non propaganda. She did n’t do propaganda movies to order” . However, harmonizing to historian, Susan Sontag, Riefenstahl ‘s movies were considered to be blazing signifiers of propaganda.
Victory of Faith was used by Hitler and the Nazi Party as propaganda advancing his rise in celebrity. The London Observer stated that “It is to be unfeignedly hoped that this movie will be shown in all film outside Germany if one wishes to understand the intoxicating spirit which is traveling Germany these days.” Victory of Faith was made in coaction with Albert Speer, subsequently Hitler ‘s curate for armaments, and contained a address by the arch racist, Julius Streicher. Hitler is shown to be more “human” in Victory of Faith, where scenes feature him repairing his hair, sudating or looking awkward and uncomfortable

. This shows that Leni, at this point, was non trying to laud Hitler or his party. The 3rd movie of the Nazi party mass meetings, Day of Freedom shows a intimation of what is to come under Hitler ‘s reign. Many historiographers say that it is impossible for Leni to hold continued to claim political ignorance and deny her engagement as a Nazi sympathizer when she had such a clear thought of power dealingss and how to demo them, nevertheless, she remained “I was ne’er anti-semitic and I ne’er joined the Nazi party. So what am I guilty of? Tell me that.”Like Triumph of the Will, Victory of Faith and Day of Freedom contain no commentary or explanatory rubrics. Riefenstahl says in a ulterior interview “The movie does non incorporate a aslant commentary for the simple ground that the movie has no commentary at all. It is history. It is strictly historical film.”Triumph of the Will presents Germany as an orderly society, and showed Germany to be a peaceable state. This image reassures European audiences that Germany is no longer endangering the peace.

Victory of the Will besides promotes typical Nazi political orientation through the word picture of just skinned, blonde haired kids, soldiers and plants, playing games or traveling about their lives as healthy, fit and smiling Aryans. Nazi political orientation is besides represented through the “roll call” scene where Aryan soldiers lined up in formation and reeled off the names of their hometowns, which intends to foreground the Nazi belief in the superior Aryan race, and besides the Nazi policy of Volksgmeinschaft. Adolf Hitler is shown in the gap frames of the movie as a divinity or a god-like figure, as he descends from the sky on an airplane to recognize the shriek and heartening population of Nuremberg. The manner she shot Hitler from below against a bluish sky, and with him invariably being made to look above the crowd are merely some of the ways in which Leni Riefenstahl deifies Hitler. Through her outstanding techniques she has captured Germany in all of it ‘s glorification for all of the universe to see and look up to. In these ways the movie has been considered as the propaganda movie of all clip – stressing the illustriousness of their leader who through composing, cutting and particular camera angles, is given fabulous dimensions. Hitler himself saw the movie as propaganda ; “a wholly alone and uncomparable glory of the power and beauty of our movement.”

However, Riefenstahl maintained that it was merely a docudrama and claims “The background was there already, both in Nuremberg and Berlin. I did non determine my topic. I did non pull strings the stuff or add any propaganda ; I merely got my camera operators to movie what I saw, every bit good as they could.” Riefenstahl, while during the redaction and cinematography of Triumph of the Will, refused to allow Hitler step in when he stated that he wanted more of the party ‘s functionaries and leaders shown. This was an abuse to Leni ‘s artistic rules. Leni Riefenstahl claims ignorance to political relations and remains inexorable in stating that she had no purpose to do propaganda for the Nazis and that her lone purpose was to document a historic event as artistically and creatively as possible. Harmonizing to Dr. Fritz Hippler, the Reich Director of movie ; “As a great creative person, what meant most to her was bring forthing a convincing and artistically acceptable movie.

Nothing else interested her.”Her movie of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Olympia, has been criticised by many to be propaganda and to back up the Nazi political orientation of the Aryan organic structure, through Riefenstahl ‘s captivation and use of the muscular male anatomy. This focal point reflects the Nazi ‘s idealization of the classical Greek organic structure as the pinnacle of racial flawlessness. In world, the Olympics were yet another country where Jews were excluded, despite the International Olympic Committee ‘s efforts to relieve favoritism. In 1938, Riefenstahl went to America to advance Olympia. The circuit coincided with the ill-famed Kristellnacht and the movie was ne’er released in the USA after a run made by the American Anti-Nazi League. However, Leni proved to demo that her cinematography was a work of art through her impressive and original camera techniques, her dramatic usage of sound and silence and her representation of the human organic structure. Harmonizing to Guzzi Lantschner, one of Leni ‘s camera operators, “She expressed no political remarks or sentiments. The Olympic movie was surely non political ; it had after all been commissioned by the OIC.” It is doubtless hard to trap Olympia as a strictly propagandist movie, as Nazis or Aryans were non the lone race or people shown. Some sympathetic historiographers believe that the true hero of Olympia is non the Fuhrer, but the Afro-american jock, Jesse Owens, who won gold. He is featured conspicuously in the movie, despite Hitler ‘s open disgust at his public presentation.

Many historiographers believe that the ground why such a argument as to whether Leni Riefenstahl was documenting history or making propaganda is owed to the fact she was adult female. Some feminist historiographers believe that the position that she was making propaganda and that she was a Nazi sympathizer or follower was merely raised because of her being female. They argue that she has suffered because she was excessively successful in a male dominated industry. Other historiographers have portrayed her as extremely talented and timeserving, but politically naive in her young person, leting herself to be used by Hitler as a propagandist. Leni, when speaking of her movies, was contrite and declared “I sorrow I was alive during the period” and “I ‘ve suffered for half a century. It ‘s an unbelievable burden.”Riefenstahl ‘s calling has become the focal point for heated arguments about the relationship between art and propaganda and she has remained a extremely controversial figure in the history of film. Her movies of the Nuremberg mass meetings were considered chef-d’oeuvres of their clip, and besides great accomplishments in the universe of propaganda.

There is no uncertainty that her movies were of benefit to the Nazis in footings of publicity, nevertheless, it is apparent that at this clip she had non known the effects of the political orientation presented in her movies on German life. The position that Leni Riefenstahl was documenting history instead than making propaganda is non nonreversible. It can non be said that she was making one or the other because through her documenting history and entering what was in forepart of her, in what she saw was a innovative artistic manner, she created propaganda. Leni Riefenstahl ‘s most famed movies, Triumph of the Will and Olympia can non be dubbed “propaganda” because the respondent can now reflect upon the wake of her movies ; something she could non make during the clip of creative activity. She did non add to the set of her movies or make any of the background propaganda, but simply filmed what she saw, in the best manner she could. “Through her lens, Leni Riefenstahl gave the universe the permanent images of Nazi Germany” ; history presented in an artistic manner, but used by the Nazis in the signifier of propaganda to advance one of the most hideous periods of power in the universe ‘s history.


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