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Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (1938)

Olympia 1. Teil - Fest der Völker (original title)
The document of the 1936 Olympics at Berlin.


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A documentary about the life and work of Leni Riefenstahl, a German film director most notorious for making the most effective propaganda films for the Nazis.

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Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Stars: Leni Riefenstahl


Uncredited cast:
David Albritton ...
Himself - High Jump, USA (uncredited)
Himself - 10000 Metres, FIN (uncredited)
Jack Beresford ...
Himself - Carries British Flag (uncredited)
Erwin Blask ...
Himself - Hammer Throw, German (uncredited)
Sulo Bärlund ...
Himself - Shot Put, Finland (uncredited)
Ibolya Csák ...
Herself - High Jump, Hungary (uncredited)
Himself (uncredited)
Henri de Baillet-Latour ...
Himself - IOC, Stands with Hitler, with Hurdlers (uncredited)
Philip Edwards ...
Himself - 800 Metres, Canada (uncredited)
Donald Finlay ...
Himself - 110m Hurdles, GB (uncredited)
Herself - Javelin Throw, Germany (uncredited)
Wilhelm Frick ...
Himself - Spectator (uncredited)
Joseph Goebbels ...
Himself - Spectator (uncredited)
Hermann Göring ...
Himself - Spectator (uncredited)
Himself - Marathon, GB (uncredited)


After being commissioned by the 1936 Olympic Committee to create a feature film of the Berlin Olympics, Riefenstahl shot a documentary that celebrates the human body by combining the poetry of bodies in motion with close-ups of athletes in the heat of competition. Includes the marathon, men's diving, and American track star Jesse Owen's sprint races at the 1936 Olympic games. The production tends to glorify the young male body and, some say, expresses the Nazi attitude toward athletic prowess. Includes the lighting of the torch at the stadium and Adolf Hitler looking on in amazement as Jesse Owens wins an unprecedented four Gold Medals. Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

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Documentary | Sport


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Parents Guide:




Release Date:

8 March 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The production company Olympia-Film-GmbH, owned by Leni Riefenstahl and her brother Heinz, was only a front to preserve the film's political independence in front of the International Olympic Committee. It was in fact entirely funded by the Third Reich. The original contract stipulated that Olympia-Film-GmbH would be dissolved once production completed and the copyrights would be the sole property of the Reich. The dissolution only took place on 9th January 1942, with Riefenstahl being awarded 20% of the film's total earnings and naming the State as the only lawful copyright owner. See more »


Featured in Contact (1997) See more »


Olympische Hymnne
Richard Strauss
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User Reviews

Is beauty propaganda?
7 March 2000 | by (toronto) – See all my reviews

I've read that this film, which portrays human beauty and athletic success, serves to justify euthanasia of the weak and infirm. If so, does not Da Vinci's David do the same?

My belief is that without the historical context, there would not be a single viewer who would suggest that this is propaganda fostered to support the atrocities of the Nazi Regime. As another reviewer suggests: this is no better than an NFL highlight film.

Actually, this is better than an NFL highlight film. Highlight films focus only on isolated moments of peak action. Do most of us prefer to just see the winning basket or the last touchdown? It's the game, the show, the story which gives us pleasure - not just the ending or spectacular feat.

The beauty of this film and its companion lies in its crafting. The lighting, the camera angles, the sequencing, the pace - everything is blended to produce a thing of beauty. It's like the chef who creates a feast with the same ingredients we manage to render a barely palatable meal. Leni produces a feast - a beautiful feast!

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