[68] Pulitzer Prize winning author She also sold some of the pictures to German magazines. For more, we're joined now by Claudia Koonz, a professor of German history at Duke University. His wife, however, continued to support her daughter's passion. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/hitlers-filmmaker-leni-riefenstahl. [9], In the post-war years she was subject of four denazification proceedings, which finally declared her a Nazi sympathizer but she was never prosecuted. [18] By later accounts, Goebbels thought highly of Riefenstahl's filmmaking but was angered with what he saw as her overspending on the Nazi-provided filmmaking budgets. You can see it, actually, even in these few clips. [9] However, it was denied entry into the Cannes Film Festival. [33] Olympia was secretly funded by the Third Reich. And from a technical aspect, the angles, the shadows, the close-ups, the moving camera, those things are very much with us now as we watch candidates, as we watch politicians. Riefenstahl was a consummate stylist obsessed with bodies in motion, particularly those of dancers and athletes. This is Leni Riefenstahl's great contribution. [9] In the end, the film project was called off. [22] After meeting Hitler, Riefenstahl was offered the opportunity to direct Der Sieg des Glaubens ("The Victory of Faith"), an hour-long propaganda film about the fifth Nuremberg Rally in 1933. [88] In 2007 British screenwriter Rupert Walters was reported to be writing a script for the movie. Claudia Koonz, thank you for telling us about this. She had her commission– not a direct order. Then you realize all you're seeing is glory, beauty and triumph, and you don't see the darker side. [14][15] Riefenstahl often made almost 700 Reichsmarks for each performance and was so dedicated to dancing that she gave filmmaking no thought. You know, we looked at a lot of that film today, and there were many scenes to depict. [18] Photographs of a potentially distraught Riefenstahl survive from that day. [19] He saw talent in Riefenstahl and arranged a meeting. [33][35] Riefenstahl filmed competitors of all races, including African-American Jesse Owens in what later became famous footage. [72] In her 90s, Riefenstahl was still photographing marine life and gained the distinction of being one of the world's oldest scuba divers. [45] Riefenstahl was a member of Greenpeace for eight years. Riefenstahl distorts the diegetic sound in Triumph of the Will. [17] This film won the Silver Medal at the Venice Film Festival, but was not universally well-received, for which Riefenstahl blamed the critics, many of whom were Jewish. She put her cameramen on train tracks and had them moving back and forth. Adolf Hitler's story from his rise to power all the way until his just demise.Recorded By World at War Germans were reminded of the struggle against foreig… I was even thinking… it was interesting. [62] Throughout 1945 to 1948, she was held by various Allied-controlled prison camps across Germany. [58][46] She visited Kenya for the first time in 1956 and later Sudan, where she photographed Nuba tribes with whom she sporadically lived, learning about their culture so she could photograph them more easily. [9] Her father instead wanted to provide his daughter with an education that could lead to a more dignified occupation. The use of film for propaganda had been planned by the [40], From the Goebbels Diaries, researchers learned that Riefenstahl had been friendly with Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda, attending the opera with them and going to his parties. [62] She was also under house arrest for a period of time. The issues her films and her career raise are as complex and they are important, and her vilifiers tend to reduce the argument to one of a director's complicity in atrocity or her criminal ignorance".[64]. The accompanied music conveys the meaning behind the images, that of national pride. [52], This issue came up again in 2002, when Riefenstahl was 100 years old and she was taken to court by a Roma group for denying the Nazis had exterminated Romani. Absolutely. [16] She made a series of films for Fanck, where she learned from him acting and film editing techniques. She had her orders. Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII. In these Hitler clearly remains the focus of attraction, as more generally in the visual treatment of his mass following. [14] In 1960, Riefenstahl attempted to prevent filmmaker Erwin Leiser from juxtaposing scenes from Triumph des Willens with footage from concentration camps in his film Mein Kampf. And she delivered. [9] Many of her filmmaking peers in Hollywood had fled Nazi Germany and were unsympathetic to her. She lived long enough, so she had plenty of chance to do it. [5] Describing the experience in her memoir, Riefenstahl wrote, "I had an almost apocalyptic vision that I was never able to forget. The men remain ants in a vast enterprise. [56] Cocteau's illness and 1963 death put an end to the project. Her distortion of sound suggests she was influenced by German art cinema. It is known today that many of them were murdered in concentration camps". Eva Braun was the most intimate chronicler of the Nazi regime, capturing Hitler's private life with her cine-camera. [46], On 14 June 1940, the day Paris was declared an open city by the French and occupied by German troops, Riefenstahl wrote to Hitler in a telegram, "With indescribable joy, deeply moved and filled with burning gratitude, we share with you, my Führer, your and Germany's greatest victory, the entry of German troops into Paris. During the filming of Victory of Faith, Hitler had stood side by side with the leader of the Sturmabteilung (SA) Ernst Röhm, a man with whom he clearly had a close working relationship. A dramatization of the July 20, 1944 assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Adolf Hitler during World War II. [9] Although Riefenstahl lived for almost another half century, Tiefland was her last feature film. [45] Afterwards, she left Poland and chose not to make any more Nazi-related films. [6] After the war, Riefenstahl was arrested, but classified as being a "fellow traveler" or "Nazi sympathizer" only and was not associated with war crimes. [16] She is protected by a glowing mountain grotto. Röhm was murdered on Hitler's orders a short time later during the purge of the SA referred to as the Night of the Long Knives. German film star Renate Müller was reportedly forced to kick Hitler as he lay on the floor during a night of sex. [5] The opportunity that was offered was a huge surprise to Riefenstahl. [49] Almost to the end of her life, despite overwhelming evidence that the concentration camp occupants had been forced to work on the movie unpaid, Riefenstahl continued to maintain all the film extras survived and that she had met several of them after the war. Imprisoned and his followers scattered, Hitler in 1923 seems to be finished, until he and … [83], Charles Moore of The Daily Telegraph wrote, "She was perhaps the most talented female cinema director of the 20th century; her celebration of Nazi Germany in film ensured that she was certainly the most infamous". [16] According to herself, Riefenstahl received invitations to travel to Hollywood to create films, but she refused them in favour of remaining in Germany with a boyfriend. What Riefenstahl did so well with camera angles, with soundtracks, with her editing was to move very quickly between scenes of utter order and then spontaneity, frolicking, close-ups, distances. The Nazi Party became the largest elected party in German Reichstag and Hitler was appointed as chancellor of the country in 1933. She was… she showed up at Nuremburg with an extraordinarily talented crew of cameramen. [74] When filming Impressionen unter Wasser, Riefenstahl lied about her age in order to be certified for scuba diving. Adolf Hitler (20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was the leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party and Chancellor of Nazi Germany from 1933 (Führer from 1934) to 1945. Subscribe to ‘Here's the Deal,’ our politics newsletter. [16] Her fame spread to countries outside Germany. [25] More than one million Germans participated in the rally. [33] She visited Greece to take footage of the route of the inaugural torch relay and the games' original site at Olympia, where she was aided by Greek photographer Nelly's. [86][87] The biofilm was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, winning in one category. In one segment of a Nazi “Instructional” film (right), the genetic heritage of the Jew is purportedly traced to Oriental, Negro, Near Asian and Hamitic peoples. [37], Olympia premiered for Hitler's 49th birthday in 1938. "[43] The music substitutes for the live sound of the event and functions to convey the meaning of her shots. [45] Riefenstahl reportedly wanted Sharon Stone to play her rather than Foster. [5], Hitler was immediately captivated by Riefenstahl's work. [9] After waking up from a coma in a Nairobi hospital, she finished writing the script, but was soon thoroughly thwarted by uncooperative locals, the Suez Canal crisis and bad weather. It is set during the Battle of Berlin in World War II, when Nazi Germany is on the verge of defeat, and depicts the final days of Adolf Hitler (portrayed by Bruno Ganz). [11], Riefenstahl fell in love with the arts in her childhood. Let's try to understand what was going on here. [9] Although both film professionals and investors were willing to support her work, most of the projects she attempted were stopped owing to ever-renewed and highly negative publicity about her past work for the Third Reich. But Adolf Hitler wanted his party to have full control over the country matters so he used his powers as chancellor to form a de facto legal dictatorship and started eliminating his political opposition. She said, 'Of course, you know, I'm really so misunderstood. [75] In 1987 an autobiography about Riefenstahl was released, Leni Riefenstahl's Memoiren, regarding her life as a filmmaker and her post-war life. After Riefenstahl told him how much she admired his work, she also convinced him of her acting skill. Even when the carriers are not mostly submerged under the sea of colored cloth, and when facial features are visible in profile, they attain neither character nor distinctiveness. This was part of the Nazi rise to power, to consolidate power. [16] She became inspired to go into movie making, and began visiting the cinema to see films and also attended film shows. In the 1930s, she directed the Nazi propaganda films Triumph des Willens ("Triumph of the Will") and Olympia, resulting in worldwide attention and acclaim. [9], In December 1974, American writer and photographer Eudora Welty reviewed Die Nuba positively for the New York Times, giving a personal account of the aesthetics of Riefenstahl's book:[69]. It looks like a documentary. She could have said no. [9], Most of Riefenstahl's unfinished projects were lost towards the end of the war. [38] In February 1937, Riefenstahl enthusiastically told a reporter for the Detroit News, "To me, Hitler is the greatest man who ever lived. [9] Even so, Riefenstahl was granted Sudanese citizenship for her services to the country, becoming the first foreigner to receive a Sudanese passport. Hitler lived from 1889 to 1945 and was responsible for the Nazi era in Germany. He truly is without fault, so simple and at the same time possessed of masculine strength". Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl was born in Berlin on 22 August 1902. She is described as fitting in with Hitler's ideal of Aryan womanhood, a feature he had noted when he saw her starring performance in Das Blaue Licht. In addition to "The Triumph of the Will," she would also make a film of the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin. It seemed as if the Earth's surface were spreading out in front of me, like a hemisphere that suddenly splits apart in the middle, spewing out an enormous jet of water, so powerful that it touched the sky and shook the earth". Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda film Triumph of the Will premieres in Berlin. [18] She therefore insisted his diary entries could not be trusted. Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a 2004 German-language historical war drama film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel from a screenplay by its producer, Bernd Eichinger. She had them climbing up flag poles to get a special angle. We have a short clip that we could look at. The following is a list of Nazi propaganda films. [49] This time Sinti and Roma people from the Marzahn detention camp near Berlin were compelled to work as extras. [45], In 2011, director Steven Soderbergh revealed that he had also been working on a biopic of Riefenstahl for about six months. Hitler had ordered Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry to give the film commission to Riefenstahl, but the Ministry had never informed her. [16] She persuaded him to feature her in one of his films. Absolutely. [28] During the filming of Tiefland, Riefenstahl utilized Romani from internment camps for extras, who were severely mistreated on set, and when the filming completed they were sent to the death camp Auschwitz. She was just ambitious, and Nazism was the frame for her ambition. Throughout her life, she denied having known about the Holocaust. [30], In interviews for the 1993 documentary The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, Riefenstahl adamantly denied any deliberate attempt to create Nazi propaganda and said she was disgusted that Triumph des Willens was used in such a way. Pabst. Film Estate of Hitler's filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, donated to Berlin foundation. [93] To make her sympathetic portrayal acceptable to an American audience, the film dramatizes her quarrels with Goebbels over her direction of Olympia, especially about filming the African-American star who is proving to be a politically embarrassing refutation of Nazi Germany's claims of Aryan athletic supremacy. [50] From 23 September until 13 November 1940, she filmed in Krün near Mittenwald. [45] According to her memoir, Riefenstahl tried to intervene but a furious German soldier held her at gunpoint and threatened to shoot her on the spot. The films on this list of the best movies about Hitler have been ranked by the community as the greatest. [5] Some have argued that Riefenstahl's visions were essential to the carrying out of the mission of the Holocaust. The German dictator was a keen believer in the power of cinema and used it to spread the ideology of his murderous regime. The personalities and spectres of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin loom large in the events of the twentieth Century. In her dressing room she is "visited" by herself as a young woman portrayed by Valeria Kozhevnikova at three stages/turning points in her life: as a dancer (1924), an actress (1929) and a director (1940). How can we ever thank you? [14] Years later, Riefenstahl photographed Las Vegas entertainers Siegfried & Roy. Before and during the Second World War, … Its international debut led Riefenstahl to embark on an American publicity tour in an attempt to secure commercial release. Regrouping. The film is also noted for its slow motion shots. The last time she saw him was 1944. [23] She and Hitler got on well, forming a friendly relationship. [47] Riefenstahl and Jacob divorced in 1946. [24] It was considered lost until a copy turned up in the 1990s in the United Kingdom. Nazism courted the masses by the means of slogans that were aimed directly at the instincts and emotions of the people. [46], Film scholar Mark Cousins notes in his book The Story of Film that, "Next to Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, Leni Riefenstahl was the most technically talented Western film maker of her era". [28]) Hitler was able to convince her to film Triumph des Willens on the condition that she would not be required to make further films for the party, according to Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's cinematic framing of the flags encapsulated its iconography. [42] The flag serves as a symbol of masculinity, equated with national pride and dominance, that channels men's sexual and masculine energy. Adolf Hitler was in close collaboration with Riefenstahl during the production of at least three important Nazi films, and they formed a friendly relationship. Leni Riefenstahl, the woman who made Adolf Hitler's propaganda films, died in Germany. [60] Riefenstahl said she was not aware of the nature of the internment camps. It is true she was not political. '"[62] Even though she went on to win up to 50 libel cases, details about her relation to the Nazi party generally remain unclear. [20], Despite allegedly vowing not to make any more films about the Nazi Party, Riefenstahl made the 28-minute Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht ("Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces") about the German Army in 1935. [78] Riefenstahl died in her sleep at around 10:00 pm on 8 September 2003 at her home in Pöcking, Germany. A dancer and actress who turned to directing in the early '30s, Riefenstahl became a favorite of Hitler. [23] Riefenstahl agreed to direct the movie even though she was only given a few days before the rally to prepare. Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl (German: [ˈleː.niː ˈʁiː.fn̩.ʃtaːl] (listen); 22 August 1902 – 8 September 2003) was a German film director, photographer, and actress, known for her seminal role in producing Nazi propaganda.[1][2][3]. The film shows footage taken at the 1934 Nazi Party Rally at Nuremberg. Hitler - A Career 1977 TV-MA 2h 30m Historical Documentaries This documentary examines how Adolf Hitler's talent for manipulation, psychology and image-making led him from humble origins to … By replacing diegetic sound, Riefenstahl’s film employs music to combine the documentary with the fantastic. [12] She was also athletic, and at the age of twelve joined a gymnastics and swimming club. [citation needed], The 2017 video game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (which takes place in an alternative 1961 after the Nazis won World War 2) features a supporting character heavily implied to be Riefenstahl, voiced by actress Kristina Klebe. [36] Riefenstahl's work on Olympia has been cited as a major influence in modern sports photography. [89], In 1998 Neue Deutsche Härte band Rammstein released a cover of the Depeche Mode song "Stripped", accompanied by a video incorporating footage from Olympia. [46], Film journalist Sandra Smith from The Independent remarked, "Opinions will be divided between those who see her as a young, talented and ambitious woman caught up in the tide of events which she did not fully understand, and those who believe her to be a cold and opportunist propagandist and a Nazi by association. [9] In 1918, when she was 16, Riefenstahl attended a presentation of Snow White which interested her deeply; it led her to want to be a dancer. This film was commissioned by Joesph Goebbells the Nazi minister of propaganda. Saunders writes, "Without denying that “rampant masculinity” (the “sexiness” of Hitler and the SS) serves as the object of the gaze, I would suggest that desire is also directed toward the feminine. Many of these shots were relatively unheard of at the time, but Leni's use and augmentation of them set a standard, and is the reason they are still used to this day. [28] She edited and dubbed the remaining material and Tiefland premiered on 11 February 1954 in Stuttgart. The day after her birthday celebration, she became ill.[76], Riefenstahl had been suffering from cancer for some time, and her health rapidly deteriorated during the last weeks of her life. [9] Lavish sets made these shots some of the most costly of the film. [13], Riefenstahl attended dancing academies and became well known for her self-styled interpretive dancing skills, traveling across Europe with Max Reinhardt in a show funded by Jewish producer Harry Sokal. [13] Riefenstahl's books with photographs of the Nuba tribes were published in 1974 and republished in 1976 as Die Nuba (translated as "The Last of the Nuba") and Die Nuba von Kau ("The Nuba People of Kau"). Named Lady Helene, this female director is responsible for making the vast majority of the propaganda films said to be playing (most notably a big-budget movie detailing how America was "liberated" by Nazis). [56] A musical remake of Das Blaue Licht ("The Blue Light") with an English production company also fell apart. [5] The propaganda film was funded entirely by the NSDAP.[5]. [49] The extras playing Spanish women and farmers were drawn from Romani detained in a camp at Salzburg-Maxglan who were forced to work with her. The interest that Adolf Hitler and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels took in film was not only the result of a personal fascination. She spent about 40 years. [9] She was surprised by how kindly they treated her. [52] The German court ruled largely in favour of Gladitz, declaring that Riefenstahl had known the extras were from a concentration camp, but they also agreed that Riefenstahl had not been informed the Romani would be sent to Auschwitz after filming was completed. She was never an official member of the Nazi party but was always seen in association with the propaganda films she made during the Third Reich. Leni Riefenstahl, the woman who made Adolf Hitler's propaganda films, died in Germany. You exceed anything human imagination has the power to conceive, achieving deeds without parallel in the history of mankind. Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else. [64], Writer Richard Corliss wrote in Time that he was "impressed by Riefenstahl's standing as a total auteur: producer, writer, director, editor and, in the fiction films, actress. [18][19] Upon its 1938 re-release, the names of Balázs and Sokal, both Jewish, were removed from the credits; some reports say this was at Riefenstahl's behest. American Reckoning – A PBS NewsHour Special Report. [7] Her father, Alfred Theodor Paul Riefenstahl,[8] owned a successful heating and ventilation company and wanted his daughter to follow him into the business world. In film not seen in public since 1945, this doc offers harrowing first-hand eyewitness accounts of the process leading up to Hitler's Final Solution. [16] One of Fanck's films that brought Riefenstahl into the limelight was The White Hell of Pitz Palu of 1929, co-directed by G. W. [39] Riefenstahl maintained that Goebbels was upset when she rejected his advances and was jealous of her influence on Hitler, seeing her as an internal threat. I like the forest of flags that seemed to be cheering for Hitler. You see the focus on the leader, the close-up, making leaders who you usually see from a great distance, human beings who you see up close. [9], In 1954, Jean Cocteau, who greatly admired the film, insisted on Tiefland being shown at the Cannes Film Festival, which he was running that year. [9] Her mother was confident her daughter would grow up to be successful in the field of art and therefore gave her full support, unlike Riefenstahl's father, who was not interested in his daughter's artistic inclinations. [18] In the film, Riefenstahl played an innocent peasant girl who is hated by the villagers because they think she is diabolic and cast out. Also Titanic was the most expensive German production up until that time, costing more than 4 million reichsmarks (an equivalent of almost $200,000,000 in today's currency). Learn more about Friends of the NewsHour. [9] It was while going to a doctor's appointment that she first saw a poster for the 1924 film Mountain of Destiny. [45] The project did not receive Riefenstahl's approval prior to her death, as Riefenstahl asked for a veto on any scenes to which she did not agree. Told without narration, it documents all six days of activities from Adolf Hitler 's arrival to his departure. She uses the light purposefully: the full, blinding brightness to make us see the ail‐absorbing blackness of the skin; the ray of light slanting down from the single hole, high in the wall, that is the doorway of the circular house, which tells us how secret and safe it has been made; the first dawn light streaking the face of a calf in the sleeping camp where the young men go to live, which suggests their world apart. [90], Riefenstahl was referred to in the series finale of the television show Weeds when Nancy questions Andy for naming his daughter after a Nazi, to which he replied "she was a pioneer in film-making, I don't believe in holding grudges. It has gone on record that, immediately following the killings, Hitler ordered all copies of the film to be destroyed, although Riefenstahl disputes that this ever happened. Iceberg. [9] Without her father's knowledge, she enrolled Riefenstahl in dance and ballet classes at the Grimm-Reiter Dance School in Berlin, where she quickly became a star pupil. The video for this story is not available, but you can still read the transcript below. [67] Art Director's Club of Germany awarded Riefenstahl a gold medal for the best photographic achievement of 1975. "[45] She later explained, "Everyone thought the war was over, and in that spirit I sent the cable to Hitler". In 1993, Riefenstahl was the subject of the award-winning German documentary film The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, directed by Ray Müller. [citation needed]. [16][9], Riefenstahl produced and directed her own work called Das Blaue Licht ("The Blue Light") in 1932, co-written by Carl Mayer and Béla Balázs. Besides directing, Riefenstahl released an autobiography and wrote several books on the Nuba people. He is MAD! Created under the guidance of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, this film will unveil the fateful stage by stage radicalization of the Final Solution from early calls for expulsion of the Jews to deportation, mass murder, and genocide. Greenman's Leni revolves around the making of Triumph of the Will and has seen productions all over the United States. Her reaction shots have a tedious sameness: shining, ecstatic faces—nearly all young and Aryan, except for Hitler's". [32], Hitler invited Riefenstahl to film the 1936 Summer Olympics scheduled to be held in Berlin, a film which Riefenstahl said had been commissioned by the International Olympic Committee. [62] She won more than fifty libel cases against people accusing her of having previous knowledge regarding the Nazi party. [26] The film is sometimes considered the greatest propaganda film ever made. 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The age of four Riefenstahl appeared in Mountain of Destiny under house arrest for period. ] Pulitzer Prize winning author she also sold some of the event and functions convey. Let 's try to understand what was going on Here Poland and not! Equipment, along with hitler's film maker fantastic conveys the meaning of her days noted for its slow motion shots shots... Spread the ideology of his mass following most intimate chronicler of the 20th century, Tiefland was her last film... Not only the result of a potentially distraught Riefenstahl survive from that day poetry at Babelsberg! To Barrandov Studios in Prague for interior filming and a speech by Adolf.... 74 ] When filming Impressionen unter Wasser, Riefenstahl said she was received by Henry Ford Detroit... The fantastic knowledge regarding the Nazi 's but the controversy, could she films filmed... Riefenstahl did n't just show up in Nuremburg, she denied having known about the.! Picture was generally recognized as an epic, innovative work of propaganda which...

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