Foreign Policy Blogs

Triumph of the Will (1935)

“Being sorry isn’t nearly enough, but I can’t tear myself apart or destroy myself. It’s so terrible. I’ve suffered anyway for over half a century and it will never end, until I die. It’s such an incredible burden, that to say ‘sorry’… it’s inadequate, it expresses too little.”
That is a 1993 quote from director Leni Riefenstahl, who created this film which has been called a documentary or a piece of propaganda. It’s actually both.
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Triumph of the Will
is Riefenstahl’s most known work and her apparent association with the Nazi Party in Germany during the 1930s was her albatross.
The scenes she shows, most from the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg, are impressive. One wonders how it would have looked in color instead of black and white.
An interesting part of the movie, which is mostly marches and speeches, shows the socialist ideals at work in the Nazi Party – it was, after all, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. There are even large groups of soldiers holding spades like guns.

It is creepy to see the absolute rapture on the faces of those lining the streets and hanging out of windows when Adolf Hitler rides by. One wonders how those same people responded once it became clear he was a monster.
Riefenstahl was a pioneer in film.
She was sure to shoot Hitler mostly from below to give him a larger than life presence. Riefenstahl also used aerial photography and telephoto lenses to great effect.
Triumph of the Will is available to rent.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Author

Sean Patrick Murphy
Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;

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