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In the 1937 preface to the first edition of this book, Leni Riefenstahl remarked 'it is the timeless document of a great idea -- a hymn to beauty and competetive endeavour.' Sixty-five years later, the graceful images of athletes competing in the 1936 Berlin games has more than withstood the test of time and validated Riefenstahl's original estimation of this work's ground-breaking importance, not only as a document, but as an exercise in the aesthetics of the idealised beauty of the human body in movement. Leni Riefenstahl was something of a Renaissance woman: Photographer, motion picture director, editor, dancer, skier, and all-around athlete, no one could have been a better match for documenting the 1936 Olympics on film, from which stills were culled to create this volume. True to the spirit of Ancient Greece, it is fitting that it was captured on silver nitrate by this gifted cinematographer christened Helene (her birth name, for which 'Leni' is a German nickname). Actually, the term 'stills' does injustice to the photographs contained with -- so alive are they, capturing the essence of athleticism and motive power. The beginning of the book is devoted to Ancient Greece, and documenting the ruins which monumentalise her greatness: The Parthenon, Myron's discus thrower, the gods, such as Apollo and Achilles. Riefenstahl has brought many of the famous statues of athletes alive, as she photographs naked men and women engaged in the ancient sports, such as the javelin throw, the shot put, eurythmics, dance and the discus throw. Her athletes epitomise the grace, sensuousness and taut, muscular efficiency of the male and female bodies.Read more ›
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