Triumph of the Will (1935) Poster

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Tim Kerr-Thomson11 January 2018
The quality of this film for its time is fantastic and for those reasons alone it is worth a watch. However, it can never be separated from the fact that it is a propaganda movie for arguably the most murderous regime the world has ever seen. The people who made this move, whilst technically talented, were Nazis and supporters of Hitler and his genocidal crimes. It is a piece of history and can not be destroyed. But it should never be watched or admired without it clearly being in the mind of the viewer that those who made and appeared in it were responsible for the deaths of twenty three million people. The movie deserves the lowest possible rating, not for its technical quality, but rather the purpose for which it was made.
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Powerfully Presents the "Calm Before the Storm"...Hitler and Germany 1934
LeonLouisRicci10 November 2016
The Term "Propaganda" did Not become a Pejorative until After WWII, before that it Simply was a Descriptive, more akin to Advertising.

For this "Infamous" Movie, the Negative Connotation Reigns mostly because of the Nazis and Their Actions "Documented" during WWII. There is certainly a Manipulative Texture to the Presentation Produced by Hitler/Leni Riefenstahl. To Show Adolf Hitler and His Party in the Best Light Possible.

This was Not the Great "Sin" that it appears Today. Although there were Hints of Brutality, Xenophobia, Bigotry, and other Vices employed by the "Party", nothing approaching the Holocaust and other Atrocities committed by the Nazis that would come to be synonymous with "Evil" were so Obvious at the Time.

The Film is more of a "Record" of the "Spell" that the Nazis and Hitler had over the German People in 1934, and not Without Reason. Hitler's Accomplishments concerning the Economy and the General Escalation of Germany's standard of Living Pre and Post Hitler are Well Known. He was "Time" Magazine "Man of the Year".

This Film was made at the Cusp of Power for the Nazi Party. Some of the Hints of Things to Come are here in Speeches, like Hitler stating that the Nazi Party should be the "ONLY" Party in Germany, for Example.

Powerful, Ground Breaking, Mesmerizing, and Undeniably Ahead of its Time, the Film is Truly a Testament to Filmmaking and its Emotional Effect on the Viewer. The Attempt to Capture the Time and Place of the German Political and Social Zeitgeist of the Mid-1930's is Invaluable.

Viewed in an Historical Retrospect it can be seen as a Frightening Foreshadowing of Media Manipulation, not to mention, a "Snapshot" of the "Calm Before the Storm".
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1934 Nuremberg Rally--A great chance create propaganda documentary
kijii3 November 2016
Triumph of the Will is a filmmaker's masterpiece in almost every way— especially cinematography and symbolism. You are not likely to see one Aryan in this film without a happy and proud smile on his face. It was made that way, don't you see?

It's very likely that every frame of this film was edited and then approved by Hitler, himself, for tone and content. I'm also quite sure that many scenes of the film were added after the Nuremberg Rally had finished.

Most of the crowd scenes were, no doubt, taken in real time. But the little determined drummer (@ 41:50") and that overjoyed lady running--with the little blond girl in her arms--to give flowers to Hitler (@ 6:21) were probably staged. (Does anyone notice that the woman is just giving those flowers to a German soldier's arms as he is riding in a car? Those arms could have been anyone's.) And, what about those cutaway shots to those "bright young faces"?

I'm sure that, during the last 80 years, this propaganda film has been deconstructed and analyzed many times, as the technology for such analysis has become available. It seems as though almost everything in the film could have been re-created after the actual rally. What does that leave us that we can trust—the flags and banners being marched into the rally?
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chaswe-2840212 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
An immediate thought is that this kind of stage-managed political hysteria of the most impassioned and theatrical nature, worked out in fantastic detail, and executed with the precision of a regimental sergeant-major, cannot happen again. Such a thought is immediately followed by the realisation, from what one reads, that it is precisely and exactly what is happening today, elsewhere in the world, in a readily identifiable northern enclave of Asia. It is also what might just as well be happening in the Middle East, if the Middle Easterners were not so congenitally disunited and incompetent.

Leni Riefenstahl's directorial style could be discussed, but I don't think there's much point. If she hadn't directed the film someone else would, and would have received praise or condemnation accordingly. Superbly edited over six months. What struck me more was the ideological content of the speechifying of Hitler and his fellow-gangsters: Goebbels, Göring, Streicher, Himmler, Heydrich --- what a bunch of glamorous blue-eyed Aryans. I'm talking especially about the classlessness of his message, and his emphasis on the Socialism of his party line. There was also a fair dollop of Nationalism, but it was not so fully prominent in this year of 1934. He even extolled peaceful co- existence. There were of course also interjections of racial purity. Almost biblical. Thou shalt have no other god than Hitler.

Both Communism and Socialism are obviously fascistic. The message is "workers of the world, unite". Left or Right. You can break a stick, but you cannot break a fascist bundle.

It tends to be forgotten that Hitler was a non-smoker, and against blood sports (as it affected animals), had come up from nuffink, an unprivileged Schicklgruber by birth. Presumably that's why he was entirely unprincipled. Was he not also a teetotaller, and even a vegetarian ? Perhaps not, but not a tippler of any sort, anyway. Not exactly a capitalist. Had more in common with the Communists and the British Labour party than might be suspected. Not easy to understand why he found favour with Edward VIII and significant sections of the British aristocracy. Transnational anti-semitism, presumably.

Not surprising that he had so many rabid followers, as shown on this screen. Little did they know what was in store for them. I kept thinking of how many of the enthusiastic young men I was looking at were to end up as mincemeat.
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The "Citizen Kane" of Propaganda...
ElMaruecan8216 May 2016
In 1934, the Nazi fortress was built on the election of Adolf Hitler as chancellor, the timely death of Hindenburg, and the infamous purge that caused the deaths of hundreds of SA members, the most emblematic one, being Rohm. Hitler's aura was then total but he needed to touch the German people in the broadest way. Only the big screen could fulfill the ambitious challenge of controlling the people at a distance by immortalizing the Nuremburg Rally of 1934.

Indeed, in the 30's, in a totalitarian system, a man with a camera could be more powerful than any soldier, but this wasn't a man who was assigned the task, but a woman, a promising talent named Leni Riefenstahl. And "Triumph of the Will" is a triumph on the field of film-making as it delivers some of the most spectacular and impressively creative shots for their time as if Riefenstahl was driven by the same desire to try new techniques, like Orson Welles when he made "Citizen Kane", six years later. But there's a reason why "Citizen Kane" is considered a masterpiece and not "Triumph of the Will", and the answer comes from Orson Welles himself.

Welles said that you could make a masterpiece in anything: even in pornography, if you intended to excite people and stimulate them sexually. However, you could never make a masterpiece that happens to be a pornographic film, because a libido is too low and too easily aroused in the first place. I paraphrased him in my review of "Lifeboat" to explain that propaganda, reprises the same role as pornography: it arouses easy emotions, in that case, instinct of superiority. In other words, you can make a masterpiece of propaganda, but not a masterpiece that happens to be a 'propaganda' film. So if I want to stick to my guns and follow my logic, I would say "Triumph of the Will" is a masterpiece of propaganda, but not a masterpiece.

Does this really matter? Well, inasmuch as Riefenstahl claimed that she made a documentary, capturing a significant chapter of Germany's history, I think it's important to set things straight, call a spade a spade and "Triumph of the Will" propaganda. It has an indubitable documentary value, but only from the perspective of a non-Nazi sympathizer, which doesn't only mean the majority of people born after the War, but even the majority of non-German people at the very time of the film's release. I'm not sure Riefenstahl wanted to address the German people with a simple 'documentary' movie, not one that 'objectively' exhilarates Hitler's success in making the eagle rise from the ashes of World War I and the infamous Treaty of Versailles.

And this constitutes the prologue of the film, depicting Germany's recovery's as a miracle only 19 months after Hitler's election, and the next shot sets the tone. While you expect to see a swastika or some marching soldiers taken in reverse shot, what do you get? Clouds. It's a heavenly sight taken from Hitler's private plane, featuring him like an Angel coming from the sky, to save Germany. This is a very clever trick that foresees the uses of religious undertones in each shot. Hitler is like a messianic figure acclaimed by crowds all reassembled to cheer and shout for him. Even the rallies at night, with the flags and torches carry a strange mysticism that Leni's eye never fails to catch.

And this is a fearsome sect-like atmosphere where each sentence shouted, sometimes eructed in that guttural German accent is followed by Pavlovian "Sieg Heil". It's not people shouting, it's one voice in unison and this is another aspect of the film: masses; and Riefenstahl knows how to handle them. In the Nazi conception of people, there's no individuality, there's no possible order when you consider each person's specificity, because by doing so, you accept the presence of "parasites" and we know where this judgment leads… No, each individual is like an atom linked to another one and assembling into one homogeneous form, a mass.

Look at these shots of workers carrying their shovels like rifles, at these young men during the roll call, or in their tents before Hitler's arrival, they all look the same, shirtless and smiling, either same uniform or same absence of uniform. There is a vertiginous shot at World War I memorial, perhaps the most beautiful of the film, where Hitler walks between rows of soldiers. The mass was so compact, that I thought it was a garden at first. This is a film made by a director who knows exactly the effects to create. Of course, she's right when she says that there's no anti-Semitic statement in the film, but that's beside the point. Such a movie touched German people and convinced the rest of skeptics that the salvation come from Hitler, so when the next rally of Nuremburg lead to the racial laws, the receptiveness of the people owed a little to this masterpiece of propaganda.

That said, I'm inclined to believe that Leni Riefenstahl, like a vast majority of Germans, believed, that salvation could only come from Hitler, and that she genuinely wanted to highlight this in her 'documentary'. Let's not just dismiss the film for what it is, and not get things mixed up. Its merit is not to be a documentary about a rally, it's too biased for that, but to provide hints of answers for the questions that come to mind after watching World War II or holocaust movies: how could that happen? Well, "Triumph of the Will" is almost meta-referential in the way the people's zeal is echoed by the filmmaker's stylistic approach. People wanted to believe in Hitler, they might have regretted it after, but they succumbed to his 'charisma' and in a way, his "will" as evil as it was, had triumphed.

It's only on the basis of this historical magnitude that the film can be considered great.
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A Mackeral In The Moonlight.
Robert J. Maxwell14 May 2016
It's 1935 in Germany, the year of the Nurenberg Rally, and in his Junkers tri-motor, wile a tuneful Wagnerian melody plays in the background, Hitler descends gracefully through the puffy white clouds like an angel in a Hallmark greeting card, come to tell the earth how the cow ate the cabbage.

They really are impressive clouds too. Leni Riefenstahl knew her stuff. And as the Junkers floats across the city skies the melody changes to the more sentimental but still stirring "Ich Hab Mein Herz in Heidelberg Verloren." See? The guy is sentimental and sweet, just like the rest of us, with just as intense a sense of Heimat. Why, the Chancellor is here to bring us all together again.

The upshot is that Hitler arrives and gives a rousing speech about the German people at a mass rally in a stadium designed by his chief architect, Albert Speer. It's magnificent. The background of the stage is draped with Nazi banners and the audience seems to consist of thousands of idolaters lined up in formation, who give boisterous cheers and Nazi salutes until Hitler begins his exhilarating pep talk, which I found boring and uninformative.

But that's not what the movie is about anyway. The political content is subordinate to the splendor. Men in uniform march in endless columns, in synchrony in a way we never did in boot camp. The band plays, the drums beat, the flags are a symphony of motion, some of the action is filmed in slow motion. It's thrilling. Especially gripping is the sight of such young boys, no more than twelve years old, pounding away so grimly, so earnestly, on their drums, clamping their lips together, frowning with a grim determination to do -- well, something. They're too small to have a good grasp of what's going on, but they have all the ardor of cheerleaders at a high school football game.

Those kids beating the drums, you've seen them before, especially one particularly energetic dark-haired boy. You've probably seen the torches and the flags too. "Triumph of the Will" is so evocative, so successful in capturing the atmosphere of NSDP members, and Riefenstahl has done such a superlative job of putting it on film, that clips of it have been lifted willy nilly and inserted into other films -- features as well as documentaries. This is one of the reasons it might seem familiar to us, in a way that it was NOT familiar but rather an astonishing spectacle to the Germans and to the world in 1935. To the world in 1935 it was a fervent and innovative display of nationalism and power.

Riefenstahl herself had striking looks, an interpretive dancer and physical fitness buff, the Katarina Witt of 1930s German films, who had earlier starred in stereotypical German movies belonging to the genre called Mountain Movies. You make a dangerous climb to the top of the mountain and return the wiser for having done it. She wasn't very particular in her choice of mountains as it turned out, but this movie and the later "Olympiad", showed flawless physical specimens showing their prowess in slow motion and included such dialog as, "This Negro is dangerous," in reference to Jesse Owens. They brought her deserved world-wide fame. "Deserved" because she was such a damned good director. If, instead of Nazi propaganda, she'd turned out biblical epics like Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments," she'd be in the pantheon today.

She was arrested after the war and then released because she'd committed no war crimes. She carried on with her photography and her movies and stuck with the subjects that had always held her in their thrall -- power and physical beauty -- among the Nuba tribe of Africa. She was 101 when she died.
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There's spoilers for documentaries?
Eric Stevenson14 May 2016
Well, what can you say about the most infamous person to ever exist in real life? It's hard to review a documentary, but I certainly can. Anyway, it was weird to have a documentary without narration. Then again, you know how those wacky Nazis were! Rudolf Hess was featured the most prominently next to Hitler. Hermann Goering seemed to only appear briefly at the end. Is it sad that I am so familiar with how the most famous Nazis work? The strangest thing might be that this movie does not contain a single anti-Semitic line. There are a few quotes where Hitler mentions the Germans being a superior race but even then, the term "Aryan" was never once used. Everyone now views this as an historical documentary, even though it obviously wasn't. Hitler has become such a staple of pop culture I recognize a lot of stock footage came from this movie.

Photographs of him in general seemed to have originated from here. A lot of documentaries exaggerate or simply outright lie to their viewers. I guess I have to give the creators credit for being honest. There were segments showing a Nazi's name before a brief speech. I only seemed to recognize Alfred Rosenberg and Joseph Goebbels. Guess I DON'T know my Nazis that well. What's also weird is how you would think that the whole movie would just be one big speech or a series of speeches. There were a lot of times where there was no talking whatsoever. It was just showing young people training or people heiling Hitler in general.

This was before World War II and the Holocaust so it might not be as historically significant as you would think. Of course, it's something every historian should look at just to have the best movie depiction of the real life Adolf Hitler. I guess modern documentaries that chronicle his atrocities are technically more entertaining, but this is great to watch in its raw form. Hitler has been depicted more times than any other historical figure, so he's practically become a myth in himself. It's all the more powerful to see him as his actual self.

Some people might compare this to "Birth Of A Nation" in that it's a movie people are ashamed of but is still technically a great movie. I personally found this better than that. BOAN did in fact depict the Ku Klux Klan as suppressing blacks, but this did not show depiction of Nazis oppressing Jews or really anybody else. Now, it's really hard to compare fiction to real life, but obviously a documentary comes off as more authentic. Don't worry, you won't be supporting genocide by loving this. Perfect ****.
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A fearful symphony
Irie21216 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Leni Riefenstahl was hired by Hitler himself to produce a film that glorified the Nazi party, and she delivered in spectacular fashion. She needed 30 cameras to capture the pageantry of 1934's week-long, 700,000-strong Nuremberg Rally. The result is a film as tightly controlled as the paramilitary troops who march and salute on the grand stage of the arena designed by Albert Speer. Her masterful edit of the rich variety of images creates a film that ebbs and swells like a symphony. When it concludes, you will recall with surprise that, but for the rousing speeches by Hitler and others, it is pure cinema-- a sweeping array of images with music, but not one word of narration.

Why, then, was the film described as "the most marvelous anti-Nazi propaganda" by the great film critic Dwight Macdonald? In his words:

"When I saw all those people shouting Heil Hitler and Sieg Heil, I thought this is menacing and sinister. Those close-ups-- the porky, beefy, misshapen faces of the Nazi leaders, they are the faces of a bunch of crooks and murderers-- you can see that... There were some shots of Goering and Goebbels that you couldn't possibly admire. Nobody but a Nazi could admire these people." (From "Interviews with Dwight Macdonald," University Press of Mississippi, 2003).

His conclusion was that Riefenstahl was "so good a director that she produces truth even when she wants to produce lies."

When I watched "Triumph of the Will" again recently, I realized how strong Macdonald's words were. My heart hardened against what I was seeing, even though it was meant to glorify-- the frank close-ups of the stolid faces of those high-and-mighty men, men who are staged as individuals standing tall against rows upon rows of those paramilitary troops, the handsomest of whom get their own sunlit close-ups. If you're not one of them, if you're not a German chauvinist, it is a chilling, frightening picture of imperial power and rank submission.
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The Greatest Proof Of Nazi Power and benevolence !
AryanGeneral4 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers

The Triumph of will is an actual and living Proof of the Nazi Greatness ! the Power that Third Reich wielded and the Good and Just cause that they were using that power for !!! Let those who gaze with hatred to the truth i am preaching, be Blinded by the Light of The Nazi's Benevolence and Power. The people Know it, the World Knows it ! We Aryan race, the race of Just and powerful are the true Inherits of the God's Land and we shall reign with Justice and Honor and clean the World of the Taint that Israel and America, are covering it with, the taint of Evil Worship, the Taint of Abominational Sexualities and bi-sexualities , the taint of corruption in cultures and concepts of just and right and Godly ! we fight for the Justice and Power of the Creater, the God ! let those who cant bear my words downrate this Review or even remove this !! but The Right Words will always find their way to the ears of those who can hear !!! Hail Nazi , Hail Schutzstaffel , Hail Aryan Race !
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Boring, boring ...
enikulainen30 December 2015
After watching the first time entirely Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, I wonder why it is considered a major work of cinematic art. It's boring, to me it extremely boring to watch stupid speeches and endless marching and blank facial expressions. The fact that some parts (they are what always displayed when trying to convince how talented Ms. Riefenstahl was ) of the documentary are skillfully filmed, does not save the awfully long, boring whole, and those parts don't last many seconds. Of course, it is propaganda, but I would have thought that the Nazis would have been able to do better. Such trash would have convinced only the true believers. Well, perhaps the Nazis were no longer in 1934 needed better propaganda, but, I wonder, whether the true believers were able to watch the film without felling asleep.
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Great Film, Bad Intentions
framptonhollis20 December 2015
I believe that a great film is a great film, no matter what its intent is. "Triumph of the Will" is practically the definition of an excellent work of cinema with awful intentions. It remains one of the most influential and important works of cinema and, without the Nazi propaganda masterpiece, today's cinema would be a bit different.

It is one of the most monumental and epic films of all time, purely because of Leni Riefenstahl's filmmaking techniques. Using various, experimental camera angles, she documents a Nazi Party rally in a magical and breathtaking way.

She films thousands of Nazi supporters from high helicopter shots, giving the audience the feeling as if we're flying with her camera. While it is a work of true evil, it is also a work of true beauty in it's visuals.

It also manages to be one of the most unintentionally frightening films of all time. During the opening sequence, in which Hitler has arrived to the rally, it is terrifying seeing all of the excited, brainwashed Nazi supporters cheering him on, some of them actually being children! Knowing about all of the horrors that Adolf Hitler caused and committed, it truly is strange and disturbing to see things like that.

Overall, this is a true gem of documentary/propaganda filmmaking and, no matter what your politics are, it is important for any true fan of cinema to see the film.
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Worth a watch for the historic context
Warning: Spoilers
"Triumph des Willens" or "Triumph of the Will" is a German black-and-white documentary film from 80 years ago. 1935 means this was done 2 years after the Nazis' rise to power, one year before the Olympic Games (fittingly the mentions of "peace" in this film) and 4 years before World War II. It documentary the Nazi Party rally 1934 in Nuremberg. We see great parades, we see significant speeches by all the big players from German politics at that time. Of course, this also includes Adolf Hitler, who we see in quite a few speeches, also the one that closes the ceremony.

I must say it is a very absurd watch, sometimes even funny in an embarrassing way and it is hard to believe that people took this really seriously. But obviously they did and it's difficult to judge them as we have not lived during that era and have not lived through the hard times of World War I and the years afterward. It is your decision what approach to take to that film. If you see it from the perspective trying to find out about and understand history in 1930s Germany, this may be a rewarding experience. If not, you will probably disgusted by the despicable recordings, even if it is nowhere near the likes of "Jud Süß" obviously. It is propaganda, but not that hateful really.

I do not agree with the decision to ban films like these. We need to keep them alive and watch them in order to understand history, even if it is about dark times. We need to be informed in order to make sure times like these won't repeat themselves again at some point in the future. Denial of the past is not the way to go. This is also why I give this film a thumbs up, a fairly high rating and recommend this one to people with an interest in global politics of the first half of the 20th century. If that description fits you, go check it out no matter where you come from.
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Very well-made documentary
Adam22 October 2015
As bad as the past had been during the Nazi regime, Triumph of the Will, is an extremely well-made documentary. The outstanding edits that had conveyed the audience to follow the Führer, Adolf Hitler, just show the intensity of propaganda used. The shots almost always showed a full setting, along with what was happening, as if preparing to guide us viewers in the direction to what would happen next. Leni Riefenstahl used great footage to show all the excitement that was exclaimed by the people before Hitler's arrival to each event. The use of it really portrays Hitler as a person who is extremely well respected and praised, giving us an impression that he was the one who deserved it. Because of this documentary being filmed in the 1930's, it fascinates me that something so old can still be so interesting. I found it exciting to be able to hear a speech that was about to be made, because of all the build up of cheer that Riefenstahl showed. One last thing I would like to add, even though this is in the German language, it is very easy to keep up with the subtitles and still get to see the footage without missing much.
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Triumph of The Cinema Maybe
thedecimator133728 August 2015
This is not a thinking-person's horror movie, it's a story. About the rise of a nation which had the potential to be the greatest in history but instead chose to fail epically. Not spoiler marked because seventy years or so is the ultimate late arrival spoiler. Where've you been? As a movie, here are my ratings: Music: 10/10, just love the Königgrätzer March, among other great pieces. Aesthetic: 11/10, perfect uniforms and symbolism Quality: 5/10, fairly shallow but passable Depth: 7/10, intellect could use work but at least it has intellect unlike today's trash Overall 9/10. As a propaganda film, here are my ratings: Music: 11/10. Often gets my blood running swiftly, especially with the aforementioned march. There are some bits that don't appeal to me, but apparently they do to other people, therefore they are effective. Aesthetic: 11/10. Here it's in reverse. Not many people think much of the film's imagery, uniforms, etcetera, but I think it's among the best ever made. Paints a beautiful picture. If only its owners actually lived up to the image of heroism they painted of themselves. Quality: 2/10. It was a very effective film for swaying the masses, who are cowardly, unscrupulous, and easily manipulated via emotions. However, even though that's fun and all it should not rely solely upon that as a propaganda film. Logical reasoning for the intellect should also be painted finely However it fails as it chose to use purposely large lies instead of truth as its source of persuasive power. Depth: 5/10. Decent, goes a good way into murky waters even in its lying. I really like how each "actor" in the film plays himself or herself. Standard of documentaries. Overall: 5/10. Has all the makings of a good propaganda film but just didn't do it right. Of course it would help if its owners were right to begin with, but they chose not to be as well.
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That's Some Marching
Hitchcoc7 July 2015
Due to economic collapse and the rise of arguably the most evil man who ever lived, the German people fell into line and accepted the rhetoric he was putting forth. This is a stunning portrayal of some of the most horrifying acceptance of a message ever seen. I realize that editing makes it so, but the close order drill that dominates the film isn't just the soldiers; it is the populace on the sidelines. Think of the devastation and destruction that followed this. The Holocaust. The Lightning Wars. The bombings of civilian populations on both sides. And this cowardly nut was seen as the savior. In hindsight, we can make comments like this. The film shows the worst side of humanity when it comes to being led down the path. Riefenstahl's work is cinematic magic and social poison. We're all part of it, right. Think of the waste of war. If the treaty after World War I hadn't discounted the possibility of reprisal from desperation, Hitler would have never had a power base. Don't poke at the snake. A remarkable and disheartening film, to say the least.
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Captures The Undeniable Power Of Cinema Like No Other Film
CinemaClown7 July 2015
Crafted with rigour, shot with astute vision & resonating an undeniable power throughout its runtime, Triumph of the Will is arguably the most powerful propaganda piece of all time that presents the ideals of Adolf Hitler & his Nazi party in such a clever manner that it convinced the German civilians that their nation is destined for eternal glory if they put their faith in the leadership of the Führer, and is also a celebration of Germany's revival as a great power.

Triumph of the Will chronicles the Nazi Party Rally held at Nuremberg in 1934 where some of the most infamous Nazi leaders give their speeches in front of 700,000 Nazi supporters. The whole picture is filled with images of Nuremberg, multiple scenes featuring countless troops rallying through the city's streets, various moments that capture the public reaction and rally speeches, all repeated several times over the course of its 114 minutes of runtime.

Directed by German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl under the orders of Adolf Hitler himself who wanted to reach the masses through a movie that would capture the ideals of his party and influence the civilians to join & support his cause, Triumph of the Will provides a calculated view of National Socialism for the only thing its leaders keep talking about is restoring their nation to its once-mighty status & reviving the nationalist spirit in every German citizen.

There is no explicit mention of the numerous atrocities Nazi would later perpetrate during the Second World War and in most ways, the documentary succeeds in painting a positive portrait of National Socialist Party. Each frame brims with strong feelings of patriotism, the wide shots of massive troops formations serves as an inspiring reminder that Germany is powerful once again and the profound effect of Hitler's speeches cannot be understated.

Triumph of the Will also features politics of the highest order. It beautifully exhibits just how easily public will rally its support to the party's cause if they can manage to create a perfect illusion. Using the humiliation Germany was subjected to after World War I to his advantage, Hitler's speeches make relentless use of religion, power & unity to instil the German pride in every citizen and by delivering on previous promises, easily succeeds in earning their trust & services.

The infamous documentary is also influential for a number of innovations it brings into the world of filmmaking, both in its use of camera & music. Sitting through the picture however is a tedious experience for it becomes repetitive very soon and stays on the same level for the rest of its runtime. The propaganda element works only on looking back & in more ways than one, it's a documentary that captures what possibly was the true state of Germany in the 1930s.

The most memorable thing about Riefenstahl's direction, apart from her technical mastery over all aspects of filmmaking, is the strong psychological pull she's able to generate just by those ingeniously photographed images. From the outside, Triumph of the Will appears as an immensely boring documentary in which similar set of events unfold in loop form for the majority of its runtime, but it also manages to seduce its viewers into admiring as well as believing in the Nazi propaganda.

It's astonishing that this film still retains a certain level of its potency despite being 80 years old which makes me wonder just how persuasive it must have been for the German public back in 1935. It sheds a completely different light on Hitler & his party and while it isn't an enjoyable experience by any means, it's bold, powerful & evocative nonetheless. Significant for its contribution to cinema & illustrating a vital segment of human history, Triumph of the Will captures the irrefutable power of cinema like no other example, before or after.
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impressive propaganda
SnoopyStyle3 July 2015
It's Sept 5, 1934. Adolf Hitler is flying into Nuremberg to head the Nazi Party Congress. It's an infamous propaganda film from Leni Riefenstahl. It contains speeches from many Nazi leaders. Of course as a piece of propaganda, it is pure evil. It solidifies the power of Hitler and makes him a demigod. Even though the speeches are mostly veiled in allusional hate disguised as self-empowerment, the militaristic context is in no doubt. This is a call to arms.

As a technical feat, it is an amazing coordination with a massive pageant undertaking. It starts off a little wonky. Hitler's arrival is sometimes out of focus. The speeches from the other Nazis get stale. There are scenes that try to soft peddle Nazism like the youth camp that seems amateurish. When night scenes started to be incorporated, the theatricality of the rally starts to elevate to another level. It's a massive rally in reality. This thing looks huge and the film captures it perfectly. Hitler is a natural orator and Riefenstahl gives him every bit of his powerful voice. She takes the mass rally and gives it a slick presentation.
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Magnificent cinematography, but otherwise hollow
brower829 November 2014
Before I get to my assessment of this cinematic work, let me remind you of my bias: I hate Nazism, I hate fascism in all of its forms (and I would hate an American fascism, so it is not a matter of hating fascism because of its ties to some foreign culture), I consider Hitler and all of his associates pure evil. Even if I fit all the criteria for being a perfect Aryan by Nazi 'racial' criteria, I would rather become a Jew than a Nazi. At least as a Jew I would be able to maintain my current moral and cultural values.

Yes, it is an infamous piece of propaganda showing how completely and quickly Hitler took complete control of Germany, offering himself as a focus of national unity. Riefenstahl shows some of the best camera work to its time, advancing the great achievement of German cinematography that before Hitler rivaled anything else -- even Hollywood productions. It is worth watching as a depiction of Nazi Germany as the purest despotism that has ever existed. Much of this staging is choreography showing the extreme regimentation already in effect in Germany roughly a year after the Devil Incarnate took power. But such, alas, is now educational -- a study of Nazi propaganda, and that is the cause of my mediocre rating.

Hitler already gets treatment that rock stars of our time get even if the lyrics are banal and the music is shallow. Even if Hitler manages to avoid the infamous denunciations of foreign powers and especially the Jews -- even the arch-bigot Julius Streicher is shown calling only for Germans to protect their 'racial purity', which is no nastier than the racist rhetoric in the USA at the time. If Hitler is not responsible for the music, the music (which is the choice of Riefenstahl) is uniformly banal -- unison brass over pounding drums. The great irony is that this bad music comes from the country that gave the world Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn (excuse me -- the Nazis banned his music!), Wagner, Brahms, and Hindemith (oh, he fled!). Needless to say, any value as entertainment is sparse at best.

The choreography within the rally site is clearly the doing of the Nazi Party and its subsidiary organizations. It does with people what Hitler's paintings do -- trivialize everything human. It is hard to imagine that Riefenstahl could make any mistakes with that except to use too few camera angles. That, of course, she commands masterfully. Of course some of the regimentation looks ludicrous -- the farmers and construction workers marching with the tools of their work as if they were soldiers. But such is my contemporary bias against military-style discipline where it serves no obvious purpose other than to obliterate individuality. Much is made of ceremonies at night, with fire taking a prominent role... I can think of some American fascists who typically have their rallies at night and heavily use fire to 'illuminate' their ceremonies.

This is a Party Congress... and one must admit that it is more impressive in its pageantry than any party convention, Democratic or Republican, in the United States. Of course, in American political conventions, words and policies are not preset pablum. But that is a valid comparison -- something like the Republican National Convention of 1980 or the Democratic National Convention of 2008, both of which had far more wit and wisdom than did speakers at the 1934 Nazi Party Congress.

We get a unique insight into Adolf Hitler as a speaker -- and how fit his prose is for infantile, obedient simpletons. We get to see his pious lies about the Night of the Long Knives, a series of murders against rivals and old enemies. Hitler is not John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, or Barack Obama. If you were looking for something as profound as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address or Churchill's "Finest Hour" speech, you will be terribly disappointed. Heck, the speech of Charlie Chaplin's "Jewish barber" impersonating "Der Phooey" at the end of The Great Dictator (which spoofs Hitler) has richer rhetoric. Hitler has learned nothing from Goethe or Schiller.

Hitler is introduced flying into Nuremberg as if a god -- consider that Hitler could exploit the novelty of flight to impress people who thought that fliers were gods. He leaves the venue by automobile. The adulation of the closest person ever to being the Antichrist is genuine enough; people are making the Nazi salute with no obvious prompting or staging. As Rudolf Hess put it, Hitler then is Germany, and Germany is Hitler on the days of the 1934 Party Congress.
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5/10 stars for movie but 10/10 for message
chuckchuck2113 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Come and see them all, the movers & shakers of Nazi Germany in 1934. Those you know & some you may not. This was peace time Germany & Rally's were the order of the day. There's not a lot of action in this movie but there is a lot of display. The symbols of the NSDAP, in English that's the Nationalist Social German Workers Party, in German it's Nationale Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei, are everywhere in multitudes to rival the number of attendees. This is not an easy watch & quite frankly can become boring. Even seeing the faces of the Nazi leaders can grow old though it is a great introduction to their faces. You may have to use the pause button to read the names & offices held by these men.

A glimpse of the players which you see & hear speak at the rallies- Adolph Hitler: Fuhrer Rudolph Hess: Deputy Fuhrer Paul Josef Goebbels: Reich Minister of Enlightenment & Propaganda Martin Bormann: Sec. to the Fuhrer & Head of the Party Chancellery (in order to talk to Hitler you talked to this man first) Hermann Goering: Air Marshall then Reichmarschall Werner Von Blomberg: Minister of War Victor Lutze: S. A. Chief of Staff- these are the brown shirts that pacified Germany internally. Alfred Rosenberg: Reichleiter & later Reich Minister Dr. Otto Dietrich: Reichleiter & Propaganda Press Chief Dr. Hans Frank: Reichs Minister of Justice, Gov. Gen. of Occupied Poland Dr. Franz Todt Gen. Inspector Highways & Construction, Minister Armaments & Munitions Fritz Reinhardt: State Secretary Ministry of Finance Richard-Walther Darre: Agriculture Leader & Head of Central Office Race & Resettlement Dr. Robert Ley: Reichleiter & the Head of the German Labor Front Baldur von Schirach: German Youth Leader Konstantin Kierl: Head of the German Labor Service Julius Schaub: SS Adjutant to Hitler Wilhelm Bruckner SA Adjutant to Hitler Adolph Wagner: Gauleiter of Munich

The only way to get through Triumph of the Will is to watch the people & ask, "What are they doing that millions of others haven't?" The show is all Nazi Rally documentations, one after another, the saturation of political symbols exceeds a Democratic or Republican convention. You do get an A-list of the movers & shakers in the Nazi Party & a chance to actually experience Hitler's speeches to his faithful.

It's just difficult to believe that from these fires comes the historical Germany of WW-II. The people went for it hook line & sinker having just come out of terrible inflation & what they deemed to be national embarrassment. It's not inspiring or riveting but it is informative & leaves lots of questions about that nation & its people at that time. It brings the question of how far nationalism should be accepted by people up for consideration. They sold their allegiance for a feeling of safety & well-being along with the promise of a brighter future if only they committed themselves faithfully to their leaders.

I once lived there in '71 & '72 and I can state that it's extremely difficult to associate the German actions of WW-II to my living experience in the country about 30 years later. This subject should not become an obsession with anyone in my way of thinking but it should be an awareness & a warning, I believe you'll like the directorial touches used by Leni Riefenstahl who perhaps had talent that was wasted after the war due her working for the Nazis.
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Triumph of the Will
Jackson Booth-Millard9 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the titles that was reasonably easy to remember from the book of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, I knew it was something to do with the reviled dictator of World War II, I was only going to watch because of the recommendation. Basically this German documentary and propaganda film was personally selected and commissioned by Adolf Hitler in 1934, who gave director, producer, editor and co-writer Leni Riefenstahl, a German actress, unlimited financial resources, the full co-operation of the Nazi hierarchy and a crew of more than a hundred. The film was originally intended to document the early days of the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), or The Nazi Party, so future generations could look back and see how the Third Reich began, but it actually covers the events of the Sixth Nuremberg Party Congress in 1934, to historians it is seen as showing how the Nazi state drew in the masses through propaganda, and also how Adolf Hitler had a unique and terrifying ability to entice crowds to his beliefs by the very power of his words. Thousands of people are seen in the footage, including the crowds of men and women, and their children, as they cheer the Führer and the thousands of Nazi soldiers, and the majority of the film is seeing the soldiers marching at the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, and the many speeches by Adolf Hitler and the other abhorred leaders, associates and followers, or they are just watching, including Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank and many more. I guess the reason this film is seen as a landmark is because it is one of the best for displaying the indoctrination (making people follow a specific ideology and opinion, like a cult) of Hitler and the Nazi regime, and it is definitely one that shows how it repugnant it is too, it is shocking to see children cheering at the evil power of the Nazis, I very much I will be watching this documentary again, but I can appreciate it as a historical record and classic propaganda. Good!
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artpf22 October 2013
A legendary propaganda/documentary of the Third Reich's 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally.

Featuring a cast of thousands as well as, of course, Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Hess, Goering and other top party officials.

Legendary? Yes. Masterpiece? Not so much.

The film-making is nothing extraordinary for the time and frankly what we really have here is largely a silent movie for a third of it that is over dubbed with military band type music.

The reviews for this film are clearly over blown. After 12 minutes you will be bored to hell. As I watch this movie, I'm not even sure what the plot is. It's a montage of Hitler with no purpose and scenes of food and beer! Finally, close to a half hour into this movie Hitler gets roasted. It's not any different than an obama propaganda rally. Let's be honest. But because Hitler was so evil, we put a heightened significance to it. Silly. Boring is boring.

More silent footage and band music and fireworks. It makes me want to run from the Nazi party, not join it!

There are a couple of interesting parts however -- watching Hitler speak to the crowd. I guess times have changed cuz I'm left wondering why people thought he was charismatic. He comes across as a kook. The other interesting thing is just looking at the scenes and the way German was way back when -- the scale of this craziness. It can remind you of clips from the rallies in North Korea today!

But it doesn't hold your attention. In the end, you'll be very bored.

PS What's with the Nazi salute? It's the gayest thing on the planet.
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Good For What It Is
gavin69423 June 2013
The infamous propaganda film of the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg, Germany.

Trying to critique this film is hard to do outside of the context of history. Because the Nazi party went on to bigger and more terrible things following the rally filmed here, this document became an important piece of history -- it shows many of the key players, and the speeches and how the crowd appears to love their dictator.

But what if the Nazis had not tried to take over the world? I suspect this film would be long forgotten. Despite any technical achievement it has, the real value is in the history. How many people want to watch a losing candidate's political ads years later? As a student of history, I think this is a valuable film. However, that is about all I can say to recommend it. There is no plot, so if you want a movie to entertain, this is not that film. Just pure propaganda beginning to end.
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Zdarlight13 May 2013
I am a big fan of film and in particular cinematography and had heard wonderful things about this film and how it was a propaganda masterpiece...

I was left feeling very underwhelmed by Mrs. Riefenstahl.

Yes the rally is an amazing spectacle but the film itself is nothing spectacular in terms of film techniques. To see so many Nazi's lining up is pretty haunting but the film itself was not filmed all too well. It instead ran as a fairly standard documentary with little or no artsy shots, no ounce of strong propaganda is present anywhere in this film...

This film is so well renowned partly because it is the only film to fully capture the massive spectacle of the Nuremberg Rally but it does not deserve its praise for cinematography or as a wonderful propaganda film as these attributes are not present.

Before watching the film, I felt that Riefenstahl had gotten off lightly following the war when she looked to clearly be pro-Nazi having made this film and her Olympics ones but, unless her Olympics films show otherwise, she looks to be just a standard film maker who was lucky enough to get the opportunity to film one of history's most infamous gatherings.

If someone else had been commissioned to make this film, the result could have been much better. Although filmed and edited in 1934-1935 but even for this time, the film displays no revolutionary techniques even for its time and is instead at times a bore.
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only masterpiece
Armand8 September 2012
or precise lesson. about art, history, propaganda skill, alternative scenarios and pulse of a time. it is began and end. picture of a regime and impressive introduction in its circle. and artistic, it is a remarkable masterpiece. not for subject but for its metamorphose. not for speeches but for levels of a event as ladder in dark room. emotion remains. because the film is curtain of velvet and lead. behind its - Shoah and its fruits. it is a document but in strange way. it is a warning and a subject for profound reflection. it is a seed - the Comunist system is perfect proof. it is part of our past. maybe our future. because it was not an accident. only a nightmare with open eyes.
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