TRIUMPH OF THE WILL
· Leni Riefenstahl, a German film actress and director was asked by Hitler to make a documentary film of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally. Entitled ‘Triumph of the Will’, this film chronologically followed the events of that Rally from its opening ceremonies to Hitlers closing address. At the beginning, Hitler is seen descending by plane from the clouds, a modern-day saviour coming to help his people. Riefenstahl was an unusual choice in that she was not a member of the Nazi party. Riefenstahl used elaborate staging, mobile cameras and filmed at night to capture the intense, feverish atmosphere at Nuremberg. However, the film was not a box office success. People were put off by its endless scenes of marching and speech-making.
· Goebbels and Riefenstahl were key people in promoting Nazi propaganda. Both suffered as a result. Goebbels remained loyal to the end. After Hitler’s suicide, Goebbels, his wife and six children also committed suicide. In Riefenstahl's case, she was cleared of being a Nazi. Riefenstahl claimed that she only directed films and was not a follower of Hitler’s ideas. However, ‘Triumph of the Will’ destroyed her career as a film director after the Second World War because of its association with the Nazis. Later in life she became well-known as a still photographer and an underwater photographer. Her life remained controversial, right up to her death in 2003, aged 101.
The success of Triumph suggests that Leni Riefenstahl was significant to film culture as it was this film and her determination to prove her role in a male dominated industry which made Riefenstahl the first female film director to achieve international recognition across Europe and the USA for her work which allowed her to become a burgeoning influence as well as a “symbolic figure for national socialism and... one for post war society”
Her gender also allowed Leni Riefenstahl to become a significant figurehead in film culture as she managed to work her way through the vast criticism of jealous men and received positive reviews for her films across the globe. This shows her significance within Film Culture as was able to prove herself in a male dominated world and industry in a time when women in Germany were expected to conform to the stereotype of a wife and mother.
Leni Riefenstahl proves herself to be significant to film culture as it was Triumph of the Will which influenced various other nations to create anti-Nazi propaganda such as Britain’s The Curse of the Swastika. This shows her significance to the film industry as, through the stylised imagery within Triumph which glorified Nazism, she was able to inflict fear into the heart of an elite superpower which in turn caused them to distribute anti-Nazi propaganda.
Triumph of the Will is a surging, two-hour hymn, with seas of great rippling banners and swastika-laden staffs, vast formations of uniformed men standing in ranks or marching in columns, grand processions, officers with arms raised...