Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Reifenstahl

Overview

The Horrible, Wonderful Life of Leni Riefenstahl is a thorough look at the controversial, yet highly regarded director whose fame arrived just as the Nazi party was making themselves more known to the world. Though a fine documentary, the DVD is slightly less interesting. Presented full-frame, the picture quality is purely based on the source material. The recent interviews are nicely detailed with good color, while clips from the original documentaries and films she directed, such as Triumph of the Will and ...
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DVD (Black & White / Mono)
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Overview

The Horrible, Wonderful Life of Leni Riefenstahl is a thorough look at the controversial, yet highly regarded director whose fame arrived just as the Nazi party was making themselves more known to the world. Though a fine documentary, the DVD is slightly less interesting. Presented full-frame, the picture quality is purely based on the source material. The recent interviews are nicely detailed with good color, while clips from the original documentaries and films she directed, such as Triumph of the Will and Olympia, often show real signs of wear. While certainly watchable, and not too distracting, the overall image is nothing to get excited about. Equally, the two-channel surround track is sufficient for a documentary of this type. The sound is centered up front, and while it never takes advantage of the surround speakers, it is clear and understandable. English subtitles, though white, are always easy to read and never blend into the scene. This disc is divided into 23 chapters, but lacks any supplemental materials.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl is essential viewing for anyone interested in the enigmatic and talented filmmaker. It is also a compelling look at the politics of art and the complexities of filmmaking itself. The documentary exhaustively presented the entire career of Riefenstahl, revealing many details of which those only familiar with her documentary work may not be aware. Her early years as an actress in the peculiar German genre of "mountain films" show Riefenstahl as a daring individual with striking vitality -- a quality that she seems to have carried throughout her life and still exuded in her old age. But the most important and compelling aspect of the film is the lengthy and detailed interview with Riefenstahl that drives the narrative. Few documentary accounts of an artist's life would be so lucky as to secure the participation of the artist herself, commenting on every stage of her work and life. The occasional evasiveness of Riefenstahl regarding her involvement with Hitler and the Nazis does not detract from the effectiveness of the documentary. On the contrary, the questions that it raises are as intriguing as the information it presents. But whatever involvement Riefenstahl is guilty of, she is clearly revealed to be a masterful filmmaker whose potential was abruptly cut off. What may be most disturbing about Riefenstahl is not that she made propaganda, but that she made beautiful, artful propaganda. Guilty of glorifying the Nazi party, and Hitler in particular, in its early years, but not of the most debasing kind of propaganda that fueled anti-Semitism, Riefenstahl's filmmaking career was nonetheless destroyed after WWII. Though her assertion that art is not political seems to reveal a shocking naïveté, it is more an expression of headstrong denial of her culpability in the later acts of the Nazis. She insists that, though she (along with much of the country) was swept up in the euphoria and new hope that the party and Hitler seemed to offer, she was not a Nazi herself and was not aware of the atrocities that were taking place or were soon to follow. Whether the backlash against her was warranted is left to the viewer to decide, but Riefenstahl clearly had much more to offer. Even by today's standards, she was a remarkable woman of uncompromising determination and artistic vision. The passion with which she recounts the filmmaking process injects this documentary with a dose of her own vigor, and the second half of her life proves to be just as interesting as the first. This portion of the documentary focuses on her photographing of African tribes and her later underwater photography and film shoots. A portrait is painted of a driven woman with a multitude of interests who seems to have gotten on with her life and forged new and interesting career paths. However, the interview segments seem to partially belie this, in that she still seems to be searching for some kind of recognition and refuses to truly admit any guilt or apologize for the harm done in her propaganda phase. The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl is a fascinating examination of a talented but contradictory woman who will likely remain a controversial historical figure for years to come.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/2/2003
  • UPC: 738329010720
  • Original Release: 1993
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Black & White / Mono
  • Sound: monaural
  • Time: 3:08:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 26,515

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ray Muller
Luis Trenker
Leni Riefenstahl Herself
Technical Credits
Ray Muller Director
Ulrich Bassenge Score Composer
Michel Baudour Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Chapter Selections.
0. Chapter Selections.
0. Menu Group #1 with 23 chapter(s) covering 03:08:29
1. Opening Credits. [3:27]
2. Photographic Memories. [2:07]
3. Discovering The Movies. [4:24]
4. The Sacred Mountain (1926). [7:39]
5. The Big Leap (1927). [3:21]
6. Th Wite Bell Of Pitz Palü (1929). [10:34]
7. The Blue Light (1932). [12:01]
8. "I Hadn't Even Heard Of Hitler." [4:48]
9. S.O.S. Iceberg (1933). [5:22]
10. Minister Goebbels. [4:01]
11. Sieg Des Glaubens (1933). [8:54]
12. Triumph Of The Will (1935). [17:36]
13. "What Was My Responsibility?." [11:54]
14. Olympia (1938). [17:54]
15. 400 RM Of Film. [13:42]
16. Kristallnacht. [6:45]
17. Tefland (1954). [13:02]
18. "All Our Ideals Were Shattered." [5:43]
19. The Nuba. [14:54]
20. A Fascist Aesthetic. [3:22]
21. A Refuge Undersea. [13:44]
22. "Being Sorry Isn't Enough." [2:02]
23. Closing Credits. [1:03]
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Menu

Main.
Begin Feature.
Resume Feature.
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