What really shocks me about the Riefenstahl apologists on this and some other
listservs is the concept of "we'll never really know." Most of the
participants here are supposed to be historians and there's enough first-hand
material to damn her ten times over. And it's all been fairly documented (by
better scholars than I) in IAMHIST articles, various biographies,
autobiographies, collected letters, etc. The latest about Tiefland is further
For example, the concept that she only spent a few days on making Triumph of
the Will. It took months of preparation and months of editing. Not to mention
this wasn't her only film to celebrate the Nazis. She had done another film
the year before this. And behind the "it was just a work for hire" has been
her fifty year history of demanding royalties from distributors around the
world for the right to distribute or exhibit the film. A perusal of letters
to the Eastman House is quite illuminating.
To say she didn't know what was happening is to condemn her as stupid. Mein
Kampf was a bestseller and a lot of people knew what was happening and left.
She was full of ambition and she used the Nazi party and her friendships to
As for being the greatest woman director ever, I would say that form does not
overcome content or intent. There are several women I would rate above her
and more important, it's all nonsense. It's like an AFI 100 Greatest Lists.
It's a apples and orange statement I would never make about anybody in
serious discussion--only for amusement. As for German woman directors, Lotte
Reiniger exiled herself for twelve years and only came back late in 1944 to
save her mother from starving to death. (And personally, I'd rather see
Prince Achmed and some of Lotte's other films than have to watch Triumph or
Olympia again.) Lotte, of course, was a great woman.
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