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This documentary recounts the life and work of one of most famous, and yet reviled, German film directors in history, Leni Riefenstahl. The film recounts the rise of her career from a dancer, to a movie actor to the most important film director in Nazi Germany who directed such famous propaganda films as Triumph of the Will and Olympiad. The film also explores her later activities after Nazi Germany's defeat in 1945 and her disgrace for being so associated with it which includes her amazingly active life over the age of 90. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a a pretty good biography of Leni Riefenstahl; done in her dotage- about ten years before she died when she was relatively still quite active. Though the film does not really emphasize this, Leni was VERY active for a 90 year old woman and ultimately lived to be 101! Now, having mentioned that it should also be noted that about 80% of this movie covers the work she did before she reached the age of 43. Imagine a biographical movie of Bob Hope (her closest contemporary) that profiles his work from age 24 to 42 (end of WWII) and then passes over most of what he did afterwords until he was 90! One would certainly miss a lot of good biography! In the case of Riefenstahl the years from her early 40s to her early 60s are not of much interest, biography wise, as she was inactive due to one fact: Her side had lost the war. If the Allied side had lost the war then I think Leni Riefenstahl would have been quite active and well known throughout most of the world during that time.
Since the side she was on did lose the war Leni was very hesitant to say that she really supported the National Socialist movement in Germany. When confronted with some written facts concerning her involvement (such as entries in Goebbels diary) she either denies it, or when she cannot deny something (such as her congratulatory telegraph to Hitler when German forces marched into Paris in 1940) she offers a different "interpretation" of why she sent the telegram. Obviously she was lying then, but I do believe she was truthful to some degree about her ambivalence towards the National Socialist movement. Suffice to say that there are some pointed questions directed at her (in her dotage) during this documentary, and she does try to answer most of them.
For the movie maker enthusiast there are some real good segments on how she (and her workers) did the filming of Nazi marches and Olympic sporting events as well as in some of her theatrical released films. The biography makers seem to give her at least grudging admiration for her work and accomplishments. I am of the same opinion myself.
Perhaps the final judgment of her (if not of her work) lies with the "De Nazification" Panel that reviewed her during the post war era. They came to the conclusion (which I, for one, support) that though she was not a Nazi; she was definitely a Nazi sympathizer. And, it would be hard to refute that finding. All things considered that was not necessarily that terrible of a finding (at least for most people living in Germany then), but the horrified look on her face (in a photograph taken when the finding was announced) showed that she realized, at that very moment, that her career as a movie maker was finished. Had she been working for the equally repulsive dictator Joseph Stalin a finding that she was a Communist sympathizer would not have hurt her as much as the Russians were on the winning side. But, the side she did work for lost the war, and she lost her career as a result of that.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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