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Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty (1938)

Olympia 2. Teil - Fest der Schönheit (original title)
Not Rated | | Documentary, Sport | 29 March 1940 (USA)
The document of the 1936 Olympics at Berlin, orchestrated as Nazi propaganda.

Director:

Leni Riefenstahl
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Cast

Credited cast:
Sheigo Arai ... Himself - Swimmer, Japan
Jack Beresford ... Himself - Rower, Britain
Ralf Berzsenyi Ralf Berzsenyi ... Himself - Small-Bore Rifle, Hungary
Ferenc Csík Ferenc Csík ... Himself - Swimmer, Hungary
Richard Degener Richard Degener ... Himself - Springboard Diver, USA
Willemijntje den Ouden Willemijntje den Ouden ... Herself - Swimmer, Holland
Charles des Jammonières Charles des Jammonières ... Himself - Free Pistol, France
Velma Dunn ... Herself - Platfom Diver, USA
Konrad Frey ... Himself - Gymnastics, Germany
Marjorie Gestring Marjorie Gestring ... Herself - Springboard Diver, USA
Albert Greene Albert Greene ... Himself - Springboard Diver, USA
Tetsuo Hamuro Tetsuo Hamuro ... Himself - 1st Place: 200m Breaststroke, Japan
Josef Hasenöhrl Josef Hasenöhrl ... Himself - Single Sculls Rower, Austria
Heinz Hax Heinz Hax ... Himself - Rapid-Fire Pistol, Germany
Adolf Hitler ... Himself
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Storyline

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 <fkelleghan@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Sport

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

29 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Olymp II See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Leni Riefenstahl first contacted the biggest German film studio, Ufa, in order for them to finance the film. Friedrich A. Mainz, the studio head refused because of cost, so she contacted Tobis-Filmkunst who agreed to finance the film and put up ½ million Reichmarks upfront (three times the cost of a standard film at the time). The contract was only signed in December 1936, four months after the end of the Olympic Games. See more »

Alternate Versions

It is well known that both parts of Olympia were made in three language versions - English, French, and German. Less well known is that each version is slightly different from one another. Additionally, at least with the English version, Riefenstahl frequently altered prints. The prints distributed on 16mm film in the 1960s did not have a boxing sequence, whereas current prints do (although the dialogue for the boxing sequence is in German). Even less well known is that upon its original release in the United States (1940), the Diving Sequence was about 1 minute longer than its current version (attentive soundtrack listeners can clearly hear the abrupt break in the music). This longer version of the Diving Sequence can be seen at the Anthology Film Archives (whose print comes from Raymond Rohauer) and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York City. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ai yori ai e (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

The Nazi connection is both stronger and more complex
3 May 2003 | by m_a_singerSee all my reviews

***warning: spoliers (of a sort)*** This is certainly the better of the two Olympia films, as others have noted, though some sequences are more interesting than others. Gymnastics gets its turn - not surprising, as Riefenstal trained as a gymnast - as do equestrian events, all-too- brief coverage of cycling, and a few too many yachts. This is the film with the diving, as others have noted, and it is not possible to overstate how brilliantly edited that sequence is.

That sequence, along with the gymnastics which open the film, is the heart of "Olympia"'s rather complex connection with Nazi ideology. Watch these sequences, and notice how the athletes' connection with the ground is removed. The extreme slow motion and rhythmic editing take this beyond a celebration of beauty; it is a celebration of transcendence, the creation of an image of man larger than the world. The diving sequence at the end disolves into an idealized vision of Speer's Cathedral of Light, and the film ends with clouds, flags, flame, and a ladder of lights that pierces the sky. Together with Windt's underrated score, this film is one of the best examples of German Romanticism ever created. That idealization and transcendence, the piercing of matter to get at the spirit behind it, *was* a component of Nazi ideology, and Riefenstahl, who was not a member of the party (and, to be fair, seems to have been repelled by the Nazi's racism) was a fellow Romantic.

Is it worth seeing today? Undoubtedly so, if only to see where modern sports coverage got its start. Think about those more complex connections, though.


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