Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Before Steven Speilberg there was Leni Riefenstahl!


Berlin, Germany—As a film lover and novice filmmaker I am beyond fascinated and spellbound by a truly amazing woman. She was an athlete, rock climber, mountain climber, dancer, actor, photographer, filmmaker, writer, scuba diver and major artist. This woman was gifted, talented and downright gorgeous.

Leni Riefenstahl was born in 1902 in this great city. Riefenstahl was raised in prosperity and rather than follow in her father’s business footstep chose to make her mark in performance and art. Riefenstahl was a strikingly beautiful contemporary of fellow actress Marlene Dietrich.

Riefenstahl had a problem, this incredibly lady had to master absolutely everything she ever tried. She made it her goal to do everything perfectly. She failed at nothing and was redundantly proven to be fearless.

As a budding filmmaker she was nothing less than a major pioneer that invented cinema techniques still being used today. She’d go to any length to create an exciting film shot out of the most ordinary human movement. Riefenstahl created cranes, rails and every conceivable kind of device to capture nearly impossible cinematic shots.

She attended one Nazi Party rally and like most of the world at that time, she admired Adolph Hitler as a potential savior of Germany. Her goal was always to gain opportunities to act, perform and make films. Hitler and his propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels was mesmerized by the exceptional young woman and invited her into what became an incredible nightmare.

Riefenstahl made a film that showcased the Third Reich called, Triumph des Willens or Triumph of the Will. The film was a documentary of feature film proportions that was made in Nuremberg. The film was a masterpiece of precession and military pageantry. Today the film is banned in Germany as a result of aggressive de-Naziification. For Riefenstahl this was more about art and filmmaking than documenting the birth of what would later become a ruthless, cruel and monstrous political regime.

In 1936 Riefenstahl created 200 miles of film to show the world the Olympics. Her film never once slighted America’s black athletic wonder, Jessie Owens of his stunning victory. With her films Olympia I and 2, Riefenstahl became the quintessential sports filmmaker that is still the role model of every sports photographer or filmmaker worldwide.

Josef Goebbels understandably wanted to make a mistress out of Riefenstahl but the truth was that she found him unattractive. To Riefenstahl's chagrin, Goebbels embellished their “friendship” in his personal diaries.

The war ended and despite the fact that Riefenstahl never once placed an anti-Semitic scene in her films or let such a word to pass her lips was arrested and put on trial. Her career was over and the best years of her life were just beginning. Riefenstahl was condemned, castigated and blackballed. Rather than to accept total defeat Riefenstahl went to Africa and began filming primitive tribes and even pursued groundbreaking oceanographic filmmaking. She never found real success again as the cinema legend she truly was.

Like all German civilians Riefenstahl was misled by the criminals running her government and only learned about the death camps after the war ended. This gifted artist was soon blamed for creating Hitler’s image and allowing him to seduce the world through her films. Unfortunately the world still remains ignorant of the truth nearly a decade after her death at the age of 101.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don’t have an ounce of pity for this bitch.

Intellectuals in Germany flocked to support Hitler and aided him in all manner of ways, from stripping German children of their humanity to using Jews as lab rats for scientific experimentation. They should have been able to see past Hitler’s carefully crafted public image but instead chose not to look.

Have you ever read Mein Kampf ? It was hailed as a brilliant intellectual expression of genus. I’ve read it and know it to be nothing more then rambling puke spewed from an insane mind. However the so-called intellectual elite all over the world praised it as being written on such a high level of thinking that the average person could not hope to understand it.

We’ve witnessed the same thing with our own version of Hitler in the White House today. Our own so-called intellectual elite line up to tell us he is the smartest President we’ve ever had, when in reality he couldn’t qualify to be a village idiot.

This woman’s story is an important one I agree, but not for the same reasons you do. Every one of our self-anointed intellectual elite should be taught what happens to people who willingly make themselves blind and promote pure evil for their own gain as she did. Maybe the world would never have known her God given talents if she had not used them for Hitler and that would have been a pity. But can you think of a greater insult to God ?

“Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God”
~ Leo Buscaglia

Crimefile said...

She is a lot of things but a bitch is not one of them!

Your right about the fact they we have our own version in the Whitehoiuse right now. The vast majority of the morons can’t see who and what he is! History shows that he supports the same restrictions on freedom and liberty as Hitler.

People are blind but the German people have been wrongly accused of being part of the Holocaust for decades. The truth is that criminal conduct was a state secret and thousands of good Germans were arrested, tried, convicted and executed for exposing the truth. They were branded as treasonous liars that were giving aid and comfort to Germany’s enemies.

Hitler fooled politicians the world over like Winston Churchill who thought he was wonderful as he was bring Hope and Change to Germany. Mein Kamph is a Socialist manifesto that demanded redistribution of wealth. The world Socialists were kissing both Hitler and Stalin’s ass just as they’re doing with Obama.

Leni Riefenstahl was simply a world-class artist who became trapped in a Socialist nightmare. Perhaps she should have been smart enough to see past the popular leader’s lies. She did not and suffered as a result. Hitler may have murdered six million Jews and Gypsies but he also brought death to nine million good Germans.

Hitler was the absolute worst politician Germany could have embraced. How did Staling escape the wrath of the world for his crimes? Some Socialists are more equal than others.

Anonymous said...

As a performing artist, I am struck by the dilemma posed artists by the confinement of their art under brutal, repressive regimes. Totalitarian despots view art as a means to an end: the glorification of their belief system.

Musicians Richard Strauss (Hitler's Germany), Pablo Casals (Franco), Prokofiev, Shostakovitch and Rostropovich (USSR) are but a few examples. Some (Strauss and to a lesser degree Prokofiev and Shostakovitch) capitulated because to them, having entre to access for their art was supremely important. Others like Casals and Rostropovich silenced or escaped oppression rather than submit to it. Among those who submitted, Shostakovitch had the last laugh, for he was able to use sublimity to in effect parody the brutal Stalinists while appearing to toe the line. The music his censors thought was patriotic Soviet party line glorification was in truth, biting sarcasm and parody of their repression.

Music, the unspoken language, often says much more than its minders can ever know!

Riefenstahl - which loosely translates 'steel-like speech' - is an enigma. But whether she was a sellout or naive, pure artist...the debate will never be solved. I lean towards sellout, for anyone so gifted in insight cannot be blind to obvious truths.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is ignorant of Leni! What a great artist and cinematographer and editor.

What was great about the German cinema industry is that the Germans let women work in the film industry and that is very difficult even for women in America today. But I guess Leni was a star actress before she was a film maker. And she excelled at both occupations.

Also there were and still are many great male German & Austrian directors as well as Leni.

For Example

Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's Nosferatu (1922)
Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" & "M"
Billy Wilder "Some like it Hot", and "Sunset Boulevard"

Alfred Hitchcock worked in Germany in the 1920's & was obviously influenced,and picked up some great expressionist ideas possibly from Max Reinhardt
Expressionism was a characteristic of German theater from the 1910's - 1920's.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that Riefenstahl was necessarily a sellout, since I am not sure in 1934 and 1935 when Leni started making films for Hitler that she could see into the ghastly future.

If we can prove she had concrete knowledge & knew what was about to transpire right at the time she made «Triumph des Willens» - then I would tend to agree.

But in 1934 she seemed to be more focused on film making, photography, the beauty in movement, and enhancing Hitler's image.

Since Leni had starred in - and made many films before Hitler she may have been innocent but because the movie was so good, so powerful, and because the star in that movie was so bad for the World and for many Germans also, she was found to be guilty by association, and because she was Hitler's filmmaker.

Should we blame Leni (And the German Government and people) for not seeing the man was a psycho. When she made her movie Triumph of the Will- she was probably just being a good German, in the same way that there are good Americans who work for their government. Or did she just want the chance to film her leader not knowing where it would lead.

The blind to obvious truths part needs to be attached to a date and time otherwise it turns into misrepresentation and the truth about Hitler may not have been completely obvious to Leni Riefenstahl in 1934.


«Riefenstahl ...is an enigma. But whether she was a sellout or naive, pure artist...the debate will never be solved. I lean towards sellout, for anyone so gifted in insight cannot be blind to obvious truths»

Anonymous said...

"Hitler fooled politicians the world over like Winston Churchill who thought he was wonderful"

I think you were referring to Neville Chamberlain.

From Wikipedia:
Churchill took the lead in warning about the danger from Hitler and in campaigning for rearmament. On the outbreak of the Second World War, he was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. His steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender or a compromise peace helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone in its active opposition to Hitler. Churchill was particularly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which helped inspire the British people. He led Britain as Prime Minister until victory had been secured over Nazi Germany.

Crimefile said...

Neville Chamberlain was indeed fooled by Hitler. He took the bait hook, line and sinker. But so did Churchill in the beginning. Everyone love the Time Magazine Man of The Year!

Anonymous said...

Regarding Leni Riefenstahl and her own triumph of the will against controlling parents...

At the age of 19 Leni started a ballet study with the Russian prima ballerina Eduardova.

In order to keep up she had to make up for lost years of dancing studies, i.e. she had been working like a woman possessed. Apart from the ballet hours, she even studied modern dancing with Mary Wigman and Jutta Klamt.

After two years she gave her first dancing performance at the Munich music hall, a few days later followed by a performance in the Berlin Blüthner Hall - Leni became famous over night.

Discovered by Max Reinhardt she was the first dancer to dance alone on the stage of his Deutsches Theater for one week on every night - a sensation.

Over 70 dancing performances followed on all great stages in Europe, until during a split jump she hurt her knee so severely that her dancing career had to end too early. For more:

http://www.leni-riefenstahl.de/eng/bio/tanz.html

In the link below are many pictures of Leni Riefenstahl including one with Mick Jagger and on her 101st birthday with Siegfried and Roy

EdSkinner said...

Artists, just as any other citizen, cannot ignore the real world in deference to a vision of what they wish it to be. We all have the ability to make a difference but if you don't deal with reality, your efforts will mostly be wasted. This lady invented much, that is true, but her biggest masterpiece is now banned, condemned and seen as a monstrous and despicable lie. Artists beware: to ignore tge real world in which you live is to throw away your gift.