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June 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Klaus Eder <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 19 Jun 1994 22:56:08 +0200
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (63 lines)
I am referring to two messages:
>Date:    Sat, 18 Jun 1994 13:02:24 EDT
>From:    Ed Haupt <[log in to unmask]>
>Date:    Sat, 18 Jun 1994 15:13:15 PDT
>From:    Gene Stavis <[log in to unmask]>
Please allow me to have, as German, a special view on Mrs. Leni
She started her career as an actrice in 1925, and she was without doubt
influenced by her first important director Arnold Fanck. Under his in-
fluence she directed her first film DAS BLAUE LICHT in 1931/32 - i.e.
before Third Reich.
Okay. Siefried Kracauer was the first who wrote that these films ("Berg-
filme" = mountain films) anticipated, even helped preparing the esthetics
and ideology of German fashism. Being very sceptic against all kind of
German mythology I tend to agree with him.
But this would be another chapter.
What happened then with Madame Riefenstahl? Please remember some other
filmmakers leaving Germany -- Fritz Lang, Peter Lorre, Carl Mayer, Max
Ophuels, Richard Oswald, Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder among a lot of
others. And what did Leni Riefenstahl do? She stayed. Okay, a lot of
others stayed too. But she decided to make a career. And she made a
career. She was one of the protagonists of Third Reich Nazi cinema, well
seen by Hitler and Goebbels and all the other "leaders". In her documen-
taries on the "Reichsparteitag" of the Nazis 1934 TRIUMPH DES WILLENS
(Triumph of will) and in her documentaries on the '36 Olympic Games
OLYMPIA she fully propagated the Nazi ideology. She was convinced. She
was a part of the system. She was the official filmmaker of the Nazis.
I am not speaking about the quality of her films. I am speaking about
their ideological and political function. (Leni Riefenstahl was a ta-
lented filmmaker. She made good films. This makes her whole case even
more difficult.)
And what happened after the Third Reich? Did Leni Riefenstahl regret,
did she look at her own films with a certain distance? Nothing of this
kind. She always said that she was "only an artist", that she "only
did films". She went dozens of times to court against people who had
the opinion that she was part of the system -- and she lost all liti-
gation, all. She published an autobiography: more than one thousand
pages full of lies. She felt herself as victim. (And what about the
real victims?)
I was surprised about the NY retrospective earlier this year. I
wouldn't have done it. Or I would have prepared a lot of materials
showing how her films made between 33 and 45 were transporting the
Nazi propaganda.
I think if you speak about her films, you shouldn't forget what role
and function these films had in history.
--- Klaus
Klaus Eder Munich
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