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June 1994


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Ed Haupt <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 21 Jun 1994 09:17:03 EDT
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Riefenstahl interests me more because of the way she sheds light on American
misinterpretations of German texts.  It is clear, that at least she was
manipulative and opportunistic.  It is not clear to me to what extent she
has a real right-wing (in German terms) ideology and to what extent it
is appropriate to consider her an ideological Nazi as opposed to a more
opportunistic one.
I find the arguement that "Das blaues Licht" is oriented toward Nazi ideology
quite thin.  The movie is clearly oriented, through both the type of story
and the film vocabulary toward the German romantic tradition.  However,
"das Volk" is shown as superstitious and greedy, and ultimately responsible
for the death of the innocent maiden.  That hardly seems to me as a credible
exercise in National Socialist Realism.  If the argument is made that all
the "Volk" oriented materials support Nazi-ism, I think that can lead to
the argument that Herder and Goethe were also so oriented, and that seems
to me a _reductio ad absurdum_.
I think it well possible that Riefenstahl may have shown her films to anti-
Hitler groups who were not in camps.  Certainly, she would only to have
sought out the officers of the 9th Regiment of Guards (Graf 9) whose officers
included Weizaecker, Stauffenberg, Kleist, and Axel von der Bussche to
find a suitable group.
If "Tiefland" can be argued not to have served Nazi purposes, and yet was
made under Nazi auspices, I think there were other films too.  I recently
had the chance to the Gustav Gruendgens Effi Briest at the Litterarischer
Verein in Club Liederkranz in New York City.  It seemed close to what I
know of the book, and not surprisingly different from Fassbinder's "Effi
Briest."  I think it is easier to argue that Fontane's novel of the
cruelties of the Prussian Honor System is easier to see as not serving Nazi
purposes than as a deliberate attack on Prussianism sponsored by the Nazis.
Again, my concern is not to make Riefenstahl or Gruendgens (Mephisto) any
better than they were, but not to see everything simply through a lens
which simply demonizes them.
Edward J. Haupt
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Department of Psychology               internet: [log in to unmask]
Montclair State University               bitnet: haupt@njin
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