Triumph of the WillDirector: Leni Riefenstahl, Adolf Hitler, Martin Bormann, Joseph Goebbels
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Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) is a filmed record of the 1934 Nazi Party Convention, in Nuremberg. No, it is more than just a record: it is an exultation of Adolf Hitler, who from the moment his plane descends from Valhalla-like clouds is visually characterized as a God on Earth. The "Jewish question" is disposed of with a few fleeting closeups; filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl prefers to concentrate on cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, and Hitler's climactic speech, all orchestrated, choreographed and illuminated on a scale that makes Griffith and DeMille look like poverty-row directors. It has been alleged that the climactic rally, "spontaneous" Sieg-Heils and all, was pre-planned according to Riefenstahl's specifications, the better to take full advantage of its cinematic potential. Allegedly, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels resented the presence and intrusion of a woman director, but finally had to admit that her images, achieved through the use of 30 cameras and 120 assistants, were worth a thousand speeches. Possibly the most powerful propaganda film ever made, Triumph of the Will is also, in retrospect, one of the most horrifying.
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Cast & Crew
1. Overture [2:13]
2. Flying to Nuremberg' [4:13]
3. Motorcade [4:37]
4. Night Rally [2:58]
5. Youth Encampment [6:09]
6. Farmer's March [2:08]
7. Labor Front Men [2:14]
8. Congress Hall of the N.S.D.A.P. [9:40]
9. Reich Labor Service Review [7:04]
10. Viktor Lutze [3:42]
11. Hitler Youth Rally [10:12]
12. Reichsweir Review [1:30]
13. Night Rally of Political Leaders [8:20]
14. SA and SS Review [11:37]
15. Grand Review of N.S.D.A>P. [13:40]
16. Liebstandarte Bodyguards [4:38]
17. Closing Ceremonies [12:03]
18. N.S.D.A.P. Hymn [3:19]
Audio Commentary by Historian Dr. Anthony R. Santoro: On/Off
Play Day of Freedom (Tag Der Freiheit)
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How does one rate a masterpiece created for the very worst of causes? Leni Riefenstahl was a great actress and director of what were called "mountain pictures" during the silent era of movie making. She uses in this film all the skills she had acquired to present Hitler as an Olympian savior of the German people. He of course turned out to be the cause of death for millions around the world. The movie is presented by it's director as a documentary of the Nuremberg rally of 1934 but the rally itself was staged and events repeated several times in order to create the kind of film that Hitler and Riefenstahl desired. The Triumph of the Will is more an example of the triumph of propaganda. It is essential viewing for those interested in World War 2 and for those interested in the history of advertising (i.e. propaganda).
This morning, on a radio news program, I heard a woman being interviewed about the president's arrival at a campaign rally. 'It was so thrilling', she said, 'to hear the helicopters, and then see him come down from the sky like that'. Sounds like Bush & Co. have been learning the lesson that Leni taught us, film, when artfully manipulated is the most potent propaganda tool on the planet. Especially when you consider the mortal descending from the sky, to be greeted by cheering crowds is identical to the way this film opens. Triumph of the Will, knowing what we know now, is not any easy film to watch, however when at age 70 it is still the premiere example of its genre, it is a must see for students not only of cinema, but also psychology, propaganda, and apparently presidential campaigns.
Riefenstahl's documentary made for Adolf Hitler and the NAZI party's 1934 Nuremburg rally. The documentary primarily covers the Nuremburg rally and the activities that surrounded the event. Again, this is a propaganda film and was designed to stir popular sentiment and political empathy for the infamous political party. If one understands the socio-political climate of Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, one can clearly see what sentiments the film seeks to evoke and hence recognize its significance and brilliant execution. For example, Germany was in a state of shambles because of the global economic depression and many Germans feared an inevitable collapse to anarchy or Bolshevism. The opening scene starts with a Wagnerian piece and shows Hitler in a plane peering down from high above the clouds as he arrives for the rally. The scene sought to reassure a worried public that The Fuhrer was omnipotent, omniscient, and was coming down from the heavens to save a troubled nation in a godlike fashion. When he arrives at the stadium, Hitler is shown walking with his SA escort out of the crowd and towards the podium instead from behind the podium to look down at the crowd; this was to instill the notion that Hitler wasn't just another Berlin bureaucrat from the old failed Weimar Republic coming to talk down to a broken people; it was done to evoke the sense that he was a man of the people for the people: selflessly arising out of a worried crowd of fellow Germans to lead them to a better and safer future. Other scenes of happy German blonde and blue-eyed youths or common laborers performing paramilitary/social tasks were intended to evoke a proud sense of unity, purpose, and safety amongst all true German 'volk' in these troubled times. In the background, the narrative voice recites how all German women should embrace the duty of childrearing for the Fatherland; how men should unite and withstand deprivations for the Fatherland; how youths should be prepared to endure hardship and learn perseverance; etc., etc. Riefenstahl's film techniques such as wide panoramic shots and multi-angle views are so influential to film that they have implemented by famous movie directors such as Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas. The mass communication techniques devised by Riefenstahl and Goebbels are still used today by virtually every modern government and media firm. This film is important not only as a histiorical tool in understanding the rise of Nazism and the dynamics of facism, it is a very important landmark in the development of film, mass entertainment and mass communication in general. I strongly believe that every person who seeks to better understand their world and the media see this film at least once and study it.
This documentary of the 1934 National Socialist party rally in Nürnberg is the best propaganda peice of all time. Leni Riefenstahl has captured the Hitler and his party in truly its most powerful political phase. She successfully depicts Hitler as a demigouge, and creates around him an ora of power and control. Hitler's wonderful orations are captivating to say the least. It is almost impossible for one not to be at awe by his oration. He captivates his audience and grabs their full attention. He controls the crowd - and Riefenstahl takes full advantage of this. It gives the viewer a true portrait of evil, and at the same time captivates them. It is easy to see why so many Germans fell under the power of Hitler. He had charisma, and he used this to bring evil and horror throughout Germany and Europe. The documentary is a must for anyone interested in history or politics.
Other reviews and endless, boring commentaries will tell you the history you probably already know about this film, so I will get on to the heart of the matter. In this beautifully conceived and executed piece of filmaking you will experience a phenomenom unknown to our own time: A people united, uplifted and bound together in a common enthusiasm for their future. Hopefulness, joy and beauty expressed and then captured on film. It is sentimental, it remembers the dead of the great world war and it exhalts at the resurrection. The sometimes moving, sometimes stirring musical score is artfully set to a variety of expressive visuals, from spontaneous crowds of the every-man to choreography and movement of the camera, all created and assembled to give you a unique experience to linger with. The speeches by various dignitaries and officials may be sat through with curiosity, perhaps even patience, as we here today will have to focus a little harder to understand them and what each is talking about. Forget the hopeless, corny propaganda which insists this film is propaganda. Simply enjoy, for a moment, what we have not had since that time, in the post-war world of the west. We search and are anxious for such a union of happy, enthusiastic people, elusive for many of us today. You will enjoy the experience this film brings to you, whoever you are, wherever you are, for this was its intention, and it will succeed.
I'd heard of Leni Riefenstahl--of this notorious propaganda film and that she was technically one of the greatest directors of all time--innovative and influential in the craft. I can't evaluate that as an ordinary viewer but it does have arresting imagery. The film opens with a plane in a cloud bank--as it breaks it to land you see the Swastika on the tail and the shadow below on a column of marching people. Then it lands, and out comes Hitler. There's no voice over in the two hour film--I thought it would be more heavy-handed than that. For about 30 minutes no words are spoken--we just see the motorcade, a torchlit serenade, a Hitler youth tent city and a peasant costume pageant. It should be about as fascinating as watching paint dry and yet I was riveted to the screen. It's not so much inherent in the content--its seeing all those faces in the crowds, many young and the gorgeous medieval town and wondering how many would survive ten years later. I'd also never seen a full speech of Hitler, and it was strangely fascinating seeing that rather than an untranslated clip. There are hints of what is to come with the hindsight of history--though nothing as overt as I might have thought. Jews are never directly mentioned; there are 3 mentions of "blood purity" one in a speech by a Hitler functionary and two in a concluding speech by Hitler himself. What is more striking are the allusions of violence, the militarization of the population, and the idolization of Hitler. The commentator pointed out all these uniformed people were *not* armed forces but party auxiliaries. And then there's things Hess saying to an adoring crowd that "Hitler is Germany; Germany is Hitler." I simply can't believe that could be said about an American president in the way they meant and it be taken seriously. I watched this twice, the first time without the commentary. I recommend this film as a (albeit morbid) window into history, one that compels because of the savage ironies of history.
Good to see once. What I take from this film, besides what it was actually made for, is seeing all those people, or "those poor misled children" as Hitler put it, thousands and thousands, couldnt figure out that this guy was such a mess. This film was even today, a little scary. This might be a good film to show in a history class to show all children the face of hate and deceit. See movies below to for direct results of this maniacs fine work.