Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Triumph of the Will

Last week I watched "Triumph of the Will" , the notorious Nazi propaganda film directed by Leni Riefenstahl , which recently became available on DVD via netflix. It depicts the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg with excerpts of speeches by numerous Nazi leaders including Hitler interwoven with scenes from spectacular mass rallies. This film is of course historically important both as a movie and for the view it provides of the Nazi party. However I wasn't all that impressed. The film may have been technically innovative at the time but is nothing special by current standards. Some of the Nazi mass rallies were quite impressive but this may be more a tribute to the stage management skills of the Nazi organizers than to Riefenstahl's talent as a film maker. Close students of internal Nazi politics may also be interested in things like the fervent declarations of loyalty and subordination to Hitler by SA leader Viktor Lutze who had recently replaced Ernst Rohm who was removed and killed in the Night of the Long Knives . However like Roger Ebert I found the film a bit tedious and overrated (although perhaps not as bad as Ebert claims). What power it does have seems to derive in large part from the viewer's knowledge of the terrible destiny of the Nazi movement. Perhaps foreshadowed in this film by the opening text commentary which declares the World War to have begun 20 years earlier but implies that Germany's suffering only began with her defeat, a rather bizarre point of view to say the least.

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