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. The production tends to glorify the young male body and, some say, expresses the Nazi attitude toward athletic prowess. Miss Riefenstahl captures the grace of athletes during field hockey, soccer, bicycling, equestrian, aquatic and gymnastic events. Highlights are the Pentathlon and the Decathlon, which was won by American Glenn Morris; it ends with the triumphant conclusion of the games. Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <email@example.com>
Leni Riefenstahl visit to the United States in 1938 was mainly aimed at finding a US distributor for the film. Faced with fierce protests from many American organizations, in particular the 'Anti-Nazi League', her plan never come to fruition. The first screening in the United States was organised in Chicago in November 1938 by Avery Brundage, president of the US Olympic Committee and an ardent Nazi-sympathiser. The private reception was hosted by Mrs Claire Dux Swift, ex-wife of the German film star Hans Albers. The second screening (also private) took place on 14th December 1938 at the California Club in presence of Olympic medalists and screen Tarzans Johnny Weissmuller and Glenn Morris (Riefenstahl ex-lover), as well as Olympic diver Marjorie Gestring. For this screening, Riefenstahl submitted a copy where she had edited out almost all the scenes featuring Hitler. See more »
If Olympia 1 - Fest der Volker - was just a piece of documentation on the athletics of the 1936 Olympics, The 'Fest der Schönheit' is more than that, as it hails the human body and it's capabilities. Among other things, it shows us the preparation of the sportsmen and women, as well as gymnastics and horse-riding.
In a way I feel too much is said and thought about Riefenstahl's and Olympia's connection to Nazi propaganda. Although that link is more apparent than in it's first part, the Fest der Schönheit isn't as compelling or scary (after 70 years) as the Triumph of the Will... Maybe it's not as important either?
A beautifully made documentary with a story of it's own, but it's hard to judge Riefenstahl on just this movie. It really isn't as charged as a lot of people have in mind...
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?