Note: This film guide is part of a collection of film guides on history, politics, and war.
German actress and film director who came to prominence during Nazi period as director of propaganda documentaries. Attended Russian Ballet School in Berlin; worked as stage dancer in early 1920s; 1st film contract as dancer in film Der heilige Berg (1926) directed by Arnold Frank; stars in several of Frank's so-called "mountain films" and from him learns the ropes of filmmaking; forms own production company in 1931 and directs first film Das blaue Licht (1932) which results in her first meeting with Hitler; when Nazis come to power in 1933 LR is appointed by Hitler to post of "film expert to the NSDAP" and is commissioned by AH to film Nazi rally Sieg des Glaubens (1933); in 1934 commissioned by Nazis to film Nuremberg rally which results in Triumph of the Will (1935); in 1936 films Berlin Olympics - Olympia (1936). Imprisoned 1945-48 by Allies for her pro-Nazi activity and finally released in 1952 when charges against her are dismissed. Following trial LR tries to rebuild her film career (documentaries in Africa) but is unsuccessful. Commissioned by London Times to film Munich Olympic Games in 1972.
Whose will "triumphs"? Presumably Hilter's as the Nazi takeover of power in 1933 is consolidated by mass demonstrations of popular support at staged rallies like the Nuremberg Party "days" at the party Congress in 1934. LR argued that the triumph was the triumph of a strong Germany and the triumph of the the will of the new leader (Welch, p. 152).
One of the most controversial and notorious films ever made. Commissioned by Hitler for obvious propaganda purposes but defended by LR as a work of cinematic art
Leni Riefenstahl, The Sieve of Time: The Memoirs of Leni Riefenstahl (1992).
Martin Loiperdinger and David Culbert, "Leni Riefenstahl, the SA, and the Nazi Party Rally Films, Nuremberg 1933-1934: `Sieg des Glaubens' and `Triumph des Willens'" Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 1988, vol. 8, no.1, pp. 3-38. BSL (M) 791.405H673
Brian Winston, "Film in Context: Triumph of the Will," History Today, January 1997, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 24-28.
Robert Skalr, "Her Talent Was Her Tragedy: An Interview with Ray Müller," Cineaste, 1994, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 22-23.
David Welch, Propaganda and the German Cinema, 1933-1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983).
The Aryan Warrior/Athlete