Leni riefenstahl: documentary film-maker or propaganda

1. Her directorial debut, “ Blue Light”, caught Hitler’s attention. 2. Whether “ Triumph of the Will” and “ Olympia” should be considered ‘ documentaries’ or ‘ propaganda films’. 3. She says that TOW doesn’t contain a single reconstructed scene, or tendentious commentary. Everything is true and purely historical. She believes that propaganda is recreating events in order to illustrate a thesis. 4. Many forms ranging from attempts to influence public to covert means of persuasion linked with brainwashing.

5. He felt that entertainment was the best propaganda and, as a result, 90% of films had no overt propaganda messages. He wanted films not to focus on emotion and entertainment rather than facts. 6. She said that she was involved in the planning however in 1993 she claimed she was not. She says she merely observed and filmed stating that the idea that she planned and designed was ‘ absurd’. 7. Builds up to climatic frenzied finale when Hitler takes the stand. Creating message of power and significance surrounding Hitler.

8. Financed by the Nazi government and commissioned by Hitler himself. 9. Artistic representation of the ideas in Hitler’s book Mein Kampf – work, extreme nationalism, belief in corporative state socialism, a private army, a youth cult, the use of propaganda and the submission of all decisions to the supreme leader. 10. There is no commentator to explain everything. It is a work of art. 11. Not only the messages in the film slanted towards Nazi beliefs and ideals, but also the mise-en-scene, editing and music which all combine to create a hypnotic and visually rich emotional experience, which would undoubtedly have influence people. 12. Film slated as propaganda and Riefenstahl blacklisted ending her career as a film-maker.

13. The fact that a certain subject has been chosen involves an interpretation of what should be shot and the manipulation of time and space in the interest of tension and storytelling. 14. Controversy surrounding how the commission for filming was given. There are conflicting stories with Riefenstahl claiming that she was approached by an International Committee coordinating the games, however unearthed material has led to the discovery that it was Hitler who suggested the idea. 15. The main criticism is that the film focuses more on the glorification of the human form rather than the actual sporting events.

16. The messages in Olympia are not political as is the case in “ Triumph of the Will”. 17. However, there are several elements of propaganda in the film. Idea of perfect Aryan-German race of athletic supremacy and Hitler’s ideology of a Youth Cult which emphasises sports and paramilitary outdoor activities. The film aimed at the young with the ethos of ‘ this is what you could be with hard work and exercise’. 18. Susan Sontag’s view was that Riefenstahl was an artist whose personal preoccupations were primarily artistic and technical, not political, however used by Hitler and the Nazi party for their own political gains.