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Underwater Impressions (2002)

Impressionen unter Wasser (original title)
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15 August 2002 (Germany)  »

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Impressions of the Deep  »

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During the shoot, 'Leni Reifenstahl' was at the time the oldest scuba diver in the world. See more »

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Fish face
23 August 2010 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

Leni Riefenstahl begins the film by directly addressing the spectators on matters of sea life preservation, particularly coral reef life. When she said "healthy coral reefs" I could not restrain from wondering to what extent echos of "aryan" could be heard in the word "healthy," or "concentration camps" for "aquariums," a few seconds later. Such is the stain that surrounds her myth (a lesser word will not do in either case), that one may pull back in awe (even as the greenery behind her at some point eerily rustles, and the screen palpitates with a couple of subtle close-ups-and-outs or two). I, for one, align with the mockery-and-terror sentiment expressed by the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, namely that Leni Riefenstahl may never die, such was her will to live (and maybe here we can trace the hatred she suffered because this overarching will-to-live was more Nazi/Nietzschean than her Nazi past)!

Yet there are no hypocritical masterpieces, or ideological ones, and this film is definitely a masterpiece. One risks passing by it as just another - however refined - underwater documentary. The film is a serene visionary testament, a quiet celebration of shape and color, organically rendered, disjointedly rendered, letting just the right sense of editing and camera movement interfere and guide matters.

Colors!

Shapes!

Movement and moving!

Fish faces!

So rich a film in its 44 minutes. The only suggestion I want to make is

  • given that there may be cheesy masterpieces - the film would greatly


benefit from a more upbeat soundtrack, say a jazz one like in Jean Painleve's underwater (rive-gauche existential!) documentaries. As it is one risks making a tepid experience from a marvelous sense of matter-of-fact and fluidity. I hope we have soon a soundtrack with a masterful musical sense, the way the film does.

And as it is Leni Riefenstahl grazes past a monster of the deep century, schools and eels and surfaces (after a quite gray toning down of the film among the sharks towards the end), well, presumably into eternity.


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