Reappraising Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will

Alan Marcus
2004 Film Studies  
Leni Riefenstahl was one of filmmakings most contentious directors. The power of her epic documentaries, Triumph of the Will (1935) and Olympia (1938), have cemented her place in film history. More criticism has been written about Riefenstahl than any other director, except perhaps Hitchcock and Welles. Publicity surrounding the publication of an illustrated book marking her centenary reawakened debates about Riefenstahl's career in film and her involvement with the Third Reich. In this
more » ... I focus on one of the key films which emerged from that relationship, Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens), which I discussed at length in my interview with Riefenstahl. Her recollections were sharp and I was intrigued by some of her answers, not for what new insight they offered, but for how they reaffirmed how she wished others to interpret her films and motivations. In particular, I was interested in the way she considered Triumph of the Will to be a realistic portrayal of the Nazi's 1934 Nuremberg Rally and the events surrounding it, and her role as a filmmaker in shaping that representation.
doi:10.7227/fs.4.5 fatcat:pzvylkthunbdjcziuj3ivdzp44