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June 1994


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David Desser <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 14 Jun 1994 14:08:22 -0500
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>On Tue, 14 Jun 1994, Gene Stavis wrote:
>> John Thomas -
>> I too have met Riefenstahl on more than one occasion and I would like to have
>> asked her when, in the forties, was she able to find an audience in Germany
>> that was known to "hate and despise" Hitler. Was it in a concentration camp?
>> Leni's skill as a filmmaker is heavily eclipsed by her quest to revise
>> history, particularly when it concerns her work.
>> Gene Stavis-School of Visual Arts, NYC
On Tues, June 14, John Thomas wrote in response to the above:
>        Good question!!! Hah!  The one and only time I heard her speak
>she did not elaborate on this.
>        Heck, so what if she "revised" history, everyone else did too.
>Once you get past the obvious propaganda stuff I see a real master
>filmmaker at work.  Even today people are just "discovering" some of the
>techniques she mastered a long, long time ago.
John--Clearly you are an intelligent and perceptive guy and I enjoy your
postngs very, very much.  But surely you cannot quite expect me to infer
all of the implications your quote above implies.  Everyone else revised
history?  You mean like the neo-Nazi Holocaust "revisionists" the American
media insists upon aiding in their cause to question the destruction of
European Jewry? More than this (since I know you don't in any way mean to
imply this sort of thing in your wildest imagination), can "techniques" be
separated from the cause to which they are put?  More than that, as Susan
Sontag demonstrated quite convincingly years ago, in "Fascinating Fascism,"
Riefenstahl was obviously and clearly a fascist and a Nazi sympathizer.  It
makes no sense to defend her on purely aesthetic grounds, as if her values
and beliefs, not to mention her contribution to the Nazi effort, were
merely "something to get past."  Has cultural relativism and "pluralism"
allowed us to accept the Nazis as just one more value system to "get past"
in our aesthetic sensibilities?
David Desser,UIUC Cinema Studies
2109 FLB/707 S. Mathews, Urbana, IL  61801