After being commissioned by the 1936 Olympic Committee to create a feature film of the Berlin Olympics, Riefenstahl shot a documentary that celebrates the human body by combining the poetry of bodies in motion with close-ups of athletes in the heat of competition. The production tends to glorify the young male body and, some say, expresses the Nazi attitude toward athletic prowess. Miss Riefenstahl captures the grace of athletes during field hockey, soccer, bicycling, equestrian, aquatic and gymnastic events. Highlights are the Pentathlon and the Decathlon, which was won by American Glenn Morris; it ends with the triumphant conclusion of the games. —IMDb
German actress/filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl began her performing career as a dancer in 1920, studying with famed instructor Mary Wigman. In 1926, she was cast by director Dr. Arnold Fanck in the first of her many “mountain films” (a genre peculiar to Germany that had been popularized by Fanck), Peaks of Destiny (1926). The best known and most popular of her athletic starring vehicles was 1929’s The White Hell of Pitz Palu. Having learned the whys and wherefores of directing and photography from Fanck, Riefenstahl expressed a desire to direct a film herself. The result was The Blue Light (1931), a true “auteur” effort: starring, directed by, edited by, and co-written by Riefenstahl, it was released through the newly formed Leni Riefenstahl Studio-Film.
The Blue Light impressed many people, including Adolf Hitler, who, upon gaining power in 1933, appointed Riefenstahl “film expert” to the National Socialist Party. Her first effort on behalf of the Nazis… read more
Some of the slower outdoor events here seem more suited to continuous television broadcast, and as such Part Two is less edge-of-your-seat in places. It's the 'action replay' events that are the most visually arresting and compelling - rendered in Riefenstahl's lush montages of dynamic camera work. Additionally the intro is notably voyeuristic, with our Aryan lads giving each other a good ol' nude rubdown. Sport!