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Triumph of the Will [VHS]

253 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Max Amann, Martin Bormann, Walter Buch
  • Directors: Leni Riefenstahl
  • Writers: Leni Riefenstahl, Eberhard Taubert, Walter Ruttmann
  • Producers: Leni Riefenstahl
  • Format: Black & White, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Timeless Multimedia
  • VHS Release Date: September 15, 1995
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000IMCZ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,540 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Triumph of the Will is one of the most important films ever made. Not because it documents evil--more watchable examples are being made today. And not as a historical example of blind propaganda--those (much shorter) movies are merely laughable now. No, Riefenstahl's masterpiece--and it is a masterpiece, politics aside--combines the strengths of documentary and propaganda into a single, overwhelmingly powerful visual force.

Riefenstahl was hired by the Reich to create an eternal record of the 1934 rally at Nuremberg, and that's exactly what she does. You might not become a Nazi after watching her film, but you will understand too clearly how Germany fell under Hitler's spell. The early crowd scenes remind one of nothing so much as Beatles concert footage (if only their fans were so well behaved!).

Like the fascists it monumentalizes, Triumph of the Will overlooks its own weaknesses--at nearly two hours, the speeches tend to drone on, and the repeated visual motifs are a little over-hypnotic, especially for modern viewers. But the occasional iconic vista (banners lining the streets of Nuremberg, Hitler parting a sea of 200,000 party members standing at attention) will electrify anyone into wakefulness. --Grant Balfour

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

373 of 384 people found the following review helpful By Doc Sarvis on May 4, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
TRIUMPH OF THE WILL has long been viewed through a dual perspective: It is both reviled by many for its glorification of Hitler, and at the same time praised for the masterful work of its director, the legendary Leni Riefenstahl (who at the time of this writing is still alive...I think she's over 100 by now). The truth is, it is all of that and more - a highly memorable, fascinating experience on several levels:
1. Despite the subject matter, it must be acknowledged that this film does what it was made to do marvelously well: It is a masterpiece of the art of propaganda...somethng that is practiced every day by all governments, in advertising, and in all political campaigns - but never better than this. The film does an amazing job of tapping deep into the German psyche, with scenes of Nuremburg, youth, etc., and allusions to great Germans of the past, all designed to tug at the "volkish" national sentiment, then deftly superimposed with images of Hitler. Very crafty, but no different than what we see every day in our media-saturated world.
2. As a study of the early the Nazi era, it is invaluable. Regardless of what happened in the years that followed, TRIUMPH needs to be viewed as a statement of its own era, when none of the horrors had yet happened and many around the world still referred to the Nazi regime (which was then consolidating power and trying to reach the hearts and minds of the people) as "the German renaissance". The commentary track adds a fascinating "what happened to that Nazi?" perspective.
3. This film has become unbelievably influential (possibly because it is still required viewing in film schools); it is perhaps second only to THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN as the most visually quoted film in hstory.
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189 of 198 people found the following review helpful By I. Martinez-Ybor VINE VOICE on April 21, 2001
Format: DVD
I had seen TotW in the theatre (Anthology Film Archives, NYC), on video and I could feel the power, in spite of the jumpy images, splotches of darkness, scratchy prints. The DVD transfer is magisterial. Clean, sharp, the underlying visual rhythm clearly discernible, the structure of the work exerting its magic without restraint. And, as good a sound as one can ever expect. The transition between pompous nocturnal nazi party celebrations to a misty dawn progressively clearing to reveal air views of Nuremberg's ancient rooftops, with the lens coming to rest fully sharp on row upon row of simmetrical white tents, where party members are waking up, all set to the quiet prelude to the third act of Wagner's Meistersinger (a piece in itself celebratory of German art and set in medieval Nuremberg), is pure cinema magic. And it establishes visual continuity (ergo historical?) from the traditional Germany of Hans Sachs to its 20th century flowering under Adolf Hitler...... not a small feat to accomplish within less than a handful of cinematic minutes.
Like magic, there is technique behind it. This is not a news-style documentary but a film constructed flawlessly in the editing room. Leni had full control of the editing and supposedly did most of it herself. The result is mesmerizing. One can understand how an unthinking populace could fall for it, and how keen an intellect and great an artist Riefenstahl is (I gather she's still active at 90+). This is not just a nicely crafted collection of pretty pictures of an old city and massive nazi spectacle. Everything is calculated to evoke an emotional response helping consolidate the identification of Germany as Hitler and Hitler as Germany. Yet, it is also a beautiful film.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Stephen E. Gruber on May 21, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I fully understand both the reviews of disappointment and approval of this DVD, "The Triumph of the Will." As a WWII fanatic, and one who owns virtually every important, and less important, documentary, I give this film a five-star review for many reasons. Before I share those reasons, once again, I sympathize with those with less favorable responses. The one criticism that I relate to is the marching sequences. The film begins with what appears to be endless marching in 1934 Nuremberg.

What is particularly monotonous is the lack of variety; with so many thousands of soldiers marching with spades (post WWI armistice limited Germany to a 100-thousand army, so they didn't want to appear aggressive at that stage), I was expecting to see tiger tanks with their 88 mm. guns, field artillery, transports, and quite literally "the whole nine yards", but this is not the case. You will see the SA, the SS, soldiers and nazis of every shape and uniform, but no hardware other than shovels and swords, banners, swastikas, and decorum. So the disappointment for me, and from what I gain from other reviews, is that Leni Rienfestahl (hereafter LR) gives us plenty of marching soldiers ad tedium. The viewer is treated to about 25 minutes of introductory marching before the first speech.

However, the strengths of the film far outweigh the flaws. Keep in mind, 1930's movie making was far different than it is today. Back then, if a director wanted to "truck" in or out with the camera, he/she had to literally use a truck to do that, giving a zooming effect (that's where the word "truck" came from as per movie directing). In addition, LR had to use existing light sources, large or small, and no added SFX, B-roll editing, and lap dissolves were done by hand.
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