Customer Review

55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply amazing, March 18, 2005
This review is from: The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (DVD)
What can you say about a woman who pretty much invented modern motion picture sports photography, made the most powerful propaganda film in history, climbed mountains in her bare feet, reinvented herself a couple of times, lied about her age in order to get SCUBA certified at 70, and lived to a feisty age of 101.

I've known about Leni Riefenstahl's films for all of my adult life, but this was all new stuff to my wife when we got married a few years ago. When I showed her this DVD, she was absolutely entranced.

Rather than get caught up in the "was she or wasn't she" debate over Riefenstahl's association with Hitler and the Nazi Party, my wife - a strong woman in her own right - saw Riefenstahl as a shining example of the liberated woman. Riefenstahl followed her creative passion wherever it led. For her, there were no gender barriers.

Had she emigrated to Hollywood with Marlene Dietrich, she may well have gotten lost in the constellation of American film stars. On the narrower stage of German film, she was a colossal talent as an actress and as a director.

Yes, she lent her talent and creativity to one of the most hideously evil regimes in history. How she really felt about it in her heart of hearts, we'll never know. It's clear she regretted making Triumph of the Will because it made her an outcast in the post-war film world.

The difficulty here is to separate the art from the politics. Before the war, Triumph of the Will won international acclaim, even from the French. Olympia, tinged as it is with its background of Nazi symbols, gave us sports camera techniques that haven't been improved upon since the film was made. Whenever you see footage of Jesse Owens' gold medal performances, you have Riefenstahl to thank for it.

Leni Riefenstahl, for all her bad judgment and Nazi connections, was one of the most powerful creative forces in the history of cinema.

This documentary bears repeated viewing because of the complexity of its subject and the impact of her work.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 24, 2007 5:11:08 PM PST
Pierre says:
Can you separate it or not? She was a Nazi, for God;s sake!

Posted on Sep 4, 2013 1:20:14 PM PDT
bukhtan says:
With all due respect, Riefenstahl was not a "shining example of a liberated woman". She was an enthusiastic adherent of an idiotic ideology that brought calamity to the civilized world and murdered millions of people. We do, in fact, have to "get caught up in" the belief systems of the people we admire (in Riefenstahl's case, because of her great abilities, understandably) and make a judgment.

A "liberated woman" would have worked on behalf of something other than herself and the Nazi party. We can just as well see Farrakhan or Mugabe as "liberated" African-Americans or Africans.

Thanks for your review.
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John Flora
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Location: Brookland, AR United States

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