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The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993)

Die Macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl (original title)
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.


Ray Müller (as Ray Muller), Ray Müller


Ray Müller, Ray Müller (as Ray Muller)
5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Leni Riefenstahl ... Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marlene Dietrich ... Self (archive footage)
Arnold Fanck ... Self (archive footage)
Walter Frentz Walter Frentz ... Self - Camerman 1936 Olymipcs
Joseph Goebbels ... Self (archive footage) (as Josef Goebbels)
Rudolf Hess ... Self (archive footage)
John Herbert Higgins John Herbert Higgins ... Self - U.S. Swimmer (archive footage)
Adolf Hitler ... Self (archive footage)
Saburo Ito Saburo Ito ... Self - Japanese Swimmer (archive footage)
Horst Kettner Horst Kettner ... Self - Leni's Companion
Reizô Koike Reizô Koike ... Self - Japanese Swimmer (archive footage)
Guzzi Lantschner Guzzi Lantschner ... Self - Camerman 1936 Olymipcs
Ralph Metcalfe ... Self - U.S. Sprinter (archive footage)
Ray Müller Ray Müller ... Self
Jesse Owens ... Self (archive footage)


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 <kchishol@execulink.com>

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Did You Know?


The narrator refers to WG Pabst instead of GW Pabst. See more »


Edited from Victory of the Faith (1933) See more »

User Reviews

Beautifully-done documentary, long but thought-provoking.
19 November 1999 | by mpenmanSee all my reviews

This film explores the boundaries between the artistic and the political (or, when does fiction have to pay for the reality it may help to create?).

Why is Leni Riefenstahl, who created propaganda for the murderous Hitler ("Olympia" -- which pioneered many of the techniques now cliche in sports camerawork and editing, and the notorious "Triumph of the Will"), despised and reviled while the work of Eisenstein and others who created propaganda for the murderous Stalin is lovingly taught in film schools? Well, maybe it was because Stalin was on the winning side of the war, according to Ms. Riefenstahl, a tough old broad who was apparently ecstatic about being interviewed. Up to a point.

This is a top-notch documentary. The cinematography is gorgeous. The probing questions are important. Riefenstahl is alternately combative, charming, evasive . . . and a whole lot of other things.

I give it a 9 of 10.

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France | UK | Germany | Belgium


German | English

Release Date:

June 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Power of the Image: Leni Riefenstahl See more »

Filming Locations:

Austria See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,711, 20 March 1994

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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