Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) is a filmed record of the 1934 Nazi Party Convention, in Nuremberg. No, it is more than just a record: it is an exultation of Adolf Hitler, who from the moment his plane descends from Valhalla-like clouds is visually characterized as a God on Earth. The “Jewish question” is disposed of with a few fleeting closeups; filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl prefers to concentrate on cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, and Hitler’s climactic speech, all orchestrated, choreographed and illuminated on a scale that makes Griffith and DeMille look like poverty-row directors. It has been alleged that the climactic rally, “spontaneous” Sieg-Heils and all, was pre-planned according to Riefenstahl’s specifications, the better to take full advantage of its cinematic potential. Allegedly, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels resented the presence and intrusion of a woman director, but finally had to admit that her images, achieved through the use of 30 cameras and 120 assistants, were worth a thousand speeches. Possibly the most powerful propaganda film ever made, Triumph of the Will is also, in retrospect, one of the most horrifying.
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
Difficult to divorce the fascist propaganda from the art (in itself evidence of how successful it works as propaganda). It stands as a document of terror, but also an epic form of poetic documentary assemblage. Despite Riefenstahl's claims, the only way she could be truly absolved of Nazi sympathising is for her to have never made the film. An impossibility, and a nearly impossible work to objectively admire.
Whether or not the survival of The Weinstein Company rides on the box office success of Inglourious Basterds (and to hear Harvey tell it
Although long, tedious, and Hitler sucks, the film is worth it in terms of the technical aspects of film making. Leni Riefenstahl did a good job.
The highlight of this documentary was the Sieg… read review
Riefenstahl was a true genius with her technical ability behind the camera. She lived in a time and place we may never understand with total control over all media and imagery. The propaganda film… read review
This film brings up an interesting question for me : How do you rate a horrifying piece of propaganda like Triumph of The Will? Does one rate it based on it’s unbelievable technical mastery, scope… read review