posts 1 - 15 of 16
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 205

Readings/viewings:

In class you will have already watched portions of Triumph of the Will (1934), a film by filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.

In case you missed any portion of the film, here is what we should have watched by Friday May 7

The times noted are visible on the time count on the video. Feel free to watch more of this film if you

choose (it’s approximately 1 hour 30 minutes total) but definitely make sure you watch all 5 of these

clips at minimum.


  • Clip #1: from the beginning of the film to Hitler’s arrival at his hotel in Nuremberg 0:00 through 9:08
  • Clip #2: at “Camp Nazi” the Hitler youth preparing for their rally. (Don’t miss look-alikes Draco Malfoy and Rolf from The Sound of Music.) 12:23 through 17:57
  • Clip #3: the labor ceremony of loyalty; Hitler addresses the Reich Labor Corps 31:23 through 35:56
  • Clip #4: Hitler addresses the Nazi youth rally and does a motor tour of the crowds 45:36-51:31
  • Clip #5: Hitler reviewing the parade of storm troopers with the flags and ensignias from regions
  • throughout Germany 1:01:08 through 1:04:52

(1) Excerpt from the amazing film on Leni R: The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (dir: Ray Mueller, 1993). You can find this film (which in its entirety is 3+ hours long) online at https://archive.org/details/TheWonderfulHorribleLifeOfLeniRiefenstahl I only ask that you watch this portion, from 1:01:20—> 1:32:04


(2) A few pages from Leni Riefenstahl’s massive autobiography: Leni Riefenstahl, excerpt from Leni

Riefenstahl: A Memoir, New York: Picador, 1992.


(2) Leni Riefenstahl’s obituary: Alan Riding, "Leni Riefenstahl, Filmmaker and Nazi Propagandist, Dies at 101," New York Times (September 9, 2003) http://www.learntoquestion.com/resources/database/archives/003486.html


We’ve now had a look, albeit a partial look, at Leni Riefenstahl’s monumental documentary film, Triumph of the Will (1934). Many of you no doubt recognized pieces of this film because so much of it has been used subsequently in virtually every film—documentary or fictional—about the Nazis and the Holocaust.


Virtually everyone who writes and talks about this film considers it to be a work of propaganda. Many critics and scholars, however, consider Riefenstahl [note spelling: everyone gets it wrong!] one of the greatest documentary filmmakers of the twentieth century. It seems contradictory. After all, a film is a film, right? It’s up there on a screen. It can’t reach out and grab us. Right?

Riefenstahl, who died in 2003 at the age of 101, considered herself to be first and foremost an artist. She was creating a work here for hire. Lots of trouble for her, she suggests. (You’ll read a bit about this in the excerpt from her autobiography.) But the results—the film--didn’t trouble her. In fact, she was enormously proud of it. She did her job. She did it well. You will hear what she had to say about it in the excerpt you will watch, as part of this assignment, from The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993) and in the small section of her autobiography that she devoted to the film.


And it may interest you to know that even though Riefenstahl later asserted that she did not support the Nazis, a new document that has come to light recently contradicts that. In a telegram Riefenstahl sent to Hitler after the Nazis conquered Paris in 1940, she wrote: “Your deeds exceed the power of human imagination. They are without equal in the history of mankind. How can we [the German people] ever thank you?”


Many Germans cited seeing Triumph of the Will as an event that persuaded them to support the Nazi government. By the time it was shown, the Nazis had been in power more than 2 years. Clearly the film made an indelible impression. After the war, Riefenstahl was required by American forces (who occupied the area where she was living) to go through “de-Nazification” following charges that she was a Nazi and/or Nazi sympathizer.


I’d like you to reflect thoughtfully on this film—from its design and execution to its effect on audiences, from its maker’s intent (based on what she tells us as well as what we independently can conclude from her remarks and her actions) to the maker’s response to its reception. You must read through the readings listed above and incorporate them into your post.

And then consider the following questions:


  • If Triumph of the Will was indeed hypnotic and compelling viewing, encouraging many to follow the Nazi party, what responsibility does Riefenstahl have for what happened during the Nazi era and the Holocaust?
  • How do you assess what she said about her motives for making the film and her awareness of what unfolded as a result of the film?
  • Should she be held responsible for what the film contains and the very powerful effect that it had on audiences? To quote Isaac, “Is she a perpetrator, bystander, or enabler?”
  • If Leni bears some responsibility, should she have been punished? If yes, then what sort of punishment? If not, then why not?
  • In short, what responsibility does an artist have for her work and the reaction it provokes? And should an artist be held responsible for its consequences?

Finally, take a look at the post that precedes yours (the first poster in the thread (after my initial prompt) gets to pick any question that is posted later and respond to it). That post will contain a question related to the position that that writer took. Your task is to respond to the question the person preceding you has raised.


And after you have responded, it’s your turn. Post an open-ended question about the position you have just taken. The person who posts immediately after you should address the question you posed.


This is a bigger question that applies to many artists, politicians, writers, activists, etc., not solely to Leni Riefenstahl. Support your position with references to what we saw on the screen as well as with references to the information contained in the readings and the film clip.

therapeuticsoup
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Artists Held Accountable

Leni Riefenstahl had made one of the biggest and most effective propaganda films of all time, but she claims to have only made it as a work of art with no political intent. However, because of her film The Triumph of the Will, many people joined the Nazi party and gravitated towards Hitler and how he was portrayed. When asked what responsibility Reni has over the Holocaust and the Nazi party, despite her claims of filming only for the art aspect and not being involved politically(https://archive.org/details/TheWonderfulHorribleLifeOfLeniRiefenstahl) , she made a huge mistake making that film. The film was so deceiving of Hitler and the Nazi Party’s nature that many people joined the Third Reich. She may have indirectly been the reason there were concentration camps coming from an increase in anti-semitism. Although anti-semitism wasn’t depicted throughout the film, once one joined Hitler’s political party they were fed ideas of hate towards Jews. Reni, as a result of making this film, wasn’t allowed to make films for the rest of her life. Her film career was over. I personally think that this was a fair tradeoff, because who’s to say that she wouldn’t make another propaganda film in her life after making one for Hitler? In her autobiography (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YL5GpUSWa94ww6IQ_2kiDyZkm4K-m8_t/view) , she claims to have told Hitler that if she did this film for him, she wouldn’t do any others for him. Some may think this was out of the ‘own good of her heart’ because she knew what she was doing was wrong, but just before this she mentioned she had a lack of confidence that was preventing her from doing the film. When reading this, I was shocked. Did she have no sympathy for the lives of others? Did she even know what the Nazi party stood for or was she filming the Triumph of the Will blind as a bat? Leni did mention how she was practically ordered to make the film by Hitler, but she didn’t put up a fight in the slightest and went along with it. I personally believe that Leni was an enabler for making this film. All her shots were so artistically thought out, making Hitler look like a god, speak like a god, and making the world look like it revolved around him. It was because of this propaganda that so many people joined his party - she was the master behind the cameras.

I know that artists are people, and people have morals. But when their art starts to deny those morals, I take that as a red flag. I love art, I love films, I love sculptures, I love music, but Leni’s art gives me chills. The cinematography is amazing, especially for her time, but I questioned her morals. And when looking at an artists work, it may not matter how beautiful it is because of the artist themselves and what they believe in. Hitler, for example, made gorgeous works of art that we looked at in class, but after finding out Hitler made them, I never saw them the same.

My question is: Do you think Leni's punishment was enough for the film she created which enhanced the Nazi party and what they stood for?

berry
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Enabler

After watching clips from Triumph of the Will in class, it completely felt like a propaganda movie. Riefenstahl clearly had some intent behind the film by the way scenes were specifically shot. For example in clip #1, everything was shot in a way that seemed lighthearted and peaceful in a way. She also took shots of Hitler’s supporters, and those people would be considered the “ideal” person in Hitler’s eyes. It seems like she knew exactly what she was doing. I think that she is responsible in some way for the consequences of the film. However, I don't think she realized the impact her film would have at the time (or maybe she did). She was an enabler, and enabled many Germans to be persuaded to support the Nazi Party through her film. Leni Riefenstahl has stated many times that she was never a Nazi sympathizer. Was she saying she wasn’t a Nazi sympathizer because she really wasn’t or because, “After the defeat of Germany in 1945, she was pronounced a Nazi sympathizer by the Allies and never again found work as a movie director.” (Leni Riefenstahl’s obituary by Alan Riding). It’s hard to believe that she wasn’t a Nazi sympathizer after reading about the telegram she sent Hitler in 1940 praising Hitler and the Nazi’s actions. She should be held responsible for what the film contains because she personally shot everything the film contains. I think her movie director career ending after the film was a fair punishment for her. She loved making films and she couldn’t do what she loved anymore. I think artists, especially now, should understand the effect/impact that their art can have on people. I think that should have some responsibility for their work and the reaction it provokes because there's also an intent behind an artist's work, whether they want to provoke a feeling or thought.

To answer @therapeuticsoup's question, I think her punishment was enough because she loved directing films and ability was taken from her. She was no longer able to do what she loved. I also think you brought up a really good point that whose to say she wouldn’t make another propaganda film. This punishment made sure that she had some consequences for her actions.

In Leni Riefenstahl’s obituary by Alan Riding, Leni Riefenstahl makes a response to an interview question saying, “Where is my guilt? I can regret. I can regret that I made the party film, `Triumph of the Will,' in 1934. But I cannot regret that I lived in that time. No anti-Semitic word has ever crossed my lips. I was never anti-Semitic. I did not join the party. So where then is my guilt? You tell me. I have thrown no atomic bombs. I have never betrayed anyone. What am I guilty of?". Do you think Riefenstahl should feel guilty about her actions?
SwedishFish
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Irreversible

The punishment that she will forever be associated with perpetuating the advancement of the Nazi Party is fair. If not I think there should be more consequences for her film. If this film were to be published in this century, it may have been a great way to understand the Nazi Party at that time and their recruitment. However, we can’t go backwards. Leni Riefenstahl’s actions can’t be reversed. The art and the artist are always connected. Many today say after an artist does something controversial to, “separate the art from the artist”. This is never the case, especially when you perpetuate the depiction of the Nazi Party that inflicted genocide on millions of people. The depiction of young boys and girls as happy people, and Hitler as their saving grace. The circumstance she was in in terms of making the film may have been threatening, however, she had the liberty to say no, or make a film that wasn’t like propaganda. Personally, I think she should hold all responsibility for the impact this movie had on Germany and marginalized groups of people. There is even proof that, “Many Germans cited seeing Triumph of the Will as an event that persuaded them to support the Nazi government.” At first, Leni was hesitant to make the film. When she first got news of it she thought it was a threat, until she met Hitler. In her biography she mentions her night with Hitler, where they discussed potentially making a film about the Nazi Party. Hitler wanted Leni to specifically make this film because of her work on Blue Light. The way in which Hitler talked about her making the film seemed like an order. There was a subtle mention that she wanted to be “free” in making this film, “tremendously encouraged by the thought that I would be completely free after this project and be able to do whatever I want.” (A few pages from Leni Riefenstahl’s massive autobiography: Leni Riefenstahl, excerpt from Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir, New York: Picador, 1992. ) Meaning all the intentional depictions of the Nazi party with everyone seeming to be happy, the camera angles, and more were all her. Leni Rieenstahl mentioned that she felt a sense of relief when the film production decision was finalized. Why? This question is something that we may never know. However it is evident that she actually supported the Nazi Party, ““Your deeds exceed the power of human imagination. They are without equal in the history of mankind. How can we [the German people] ever thank you?” Leni Rieenstahl could be all three, a perpetrator, bystander, and an enabler. Now, it may be difficult to connect all 3, but I believe that she encompasses all of them. She perpetuated the growth of the Nazi Party. She stood by their actions, and didn’t say a word to stop them. She enabled Hitler’s request to make this film and executed it just the way he wanted. I think that it would only be appropriate to punish her for her actions. I do wonder how much of her participation in the film was forced, but after hearing her sympathize with the Nazis I can’t help but want to see action taken for her film. My question is, Do you think making this film was out of her control?
plaidplatypus
Boston, Ma, US
Posts: 18

Taking resposibility for your actions

I honestly don’t know what responsibility Leni Riefenstahl bears for making the film, but I think that the lack of responsibility she took looking back at the film is disturbing. In the documentary she seems to regret making the film because of what it did to her career, rather than because it was Nazi propaganda and contributed to the Holocaust. I think that she probably made the film to advance her career during a time of turmoil for many artists, and maybe she did she the film itself as just art, the problem is it seems she cared more about her art and her career than she did about the problems it caused and people it hurt. She definitely was an enabler to the Nazis, but I don’t know to what degree she should have been held responsible. As the previous posters have stated, her career ending was a big punishment for her, and even if it wasn’t formal she was punished for creating the film. I think that artist should be held responsible for the work they create. Most of the time, the reactions they create are purposeful and are fully intended by the the artist


In response to @berry’s question, I think Riefenstahl should feel guilty for her actions. Even if she feels she didn’t know better at the time, she should have felt guilty after, knowing Triumph of the Will did contribute to support of the nazi party and their actions. Even though she never joined the Nazi party, she contributed to it more than many members did, and she should’ve been able to acknowledge her past mistakes.


My question is do you think her work was integral to fostering Nazi support, or were people who saw Triumph of the Will already close to joining the Nazi party because of what was happening in the world around them?

SleezMoth
boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

A slightly different take

Triumph of the Will really got the popularity of the nazi party up in Germany and across Europe, increasing the population of the nazi party directly as a result. The movie itself did in a way induct many into the party, but I don't think by any means Riefenstahl has any significant responsibility in the nazi party’s actions. She created a piece of art highlighting the glorious looking parts of a very dark party, and that may have swayed people, so it was definitely part of the propaganda for Hitler and the nazis, but there was an extensive propaganda program already in play that would go on for much longer than most of the effects from Triumph of the Will. She was complicit in pro-nazi propaganda and should be blamed for that, because that is an issue, but did not participate in propaganda that put down other groups.

In her eyes the creation of the film was a paid job that was not meant to cause any harm, however clearly it did cause harm when the nazi party grew in size, which gave them more influence and decreased the resistance agaisnt them. She may not have been super pro nazi as she claims to not be, but she was far from anti-nazi and elevated the normalcy that the nazi party was trying to cultivate around their heinous acts.

I don't think Riefenstahl is a perpetrator in the holocaust. If we believe everything she says about her motives, she was a bystander who was used by the party to enable their goals, but assuming she was lying about some parts of their excuse to save face I’d say she was more of an enabler. I don't know if she should be punished though because at the end of the day what she made was art, even if it was propaganda. I don't think any type of art should be silenced regardless of how destructive it was and I don't think an artist should be punished for making art.

An artist does not have responsibility for the reaction art provokes, because reaction does not come from the art, but comes from the enjoyer of the art. I don't think an artist should be punished for destructive art, unless the law is broken in that case they should serve whatever time they need to serve. If people don't like an artists art then they do not have to consume it but they should not try and silence it. At the end of the day it’s not Reifenstahl’s fault that the holocaust happened or that people took her documentary as an excuse to support a disgusting party. It is her fault for creating propaganda, but not her bad.

As a response to the question below, I don't think the punishment was warranted for reasons described in my response, and I also don't think that the film she made supported the nazi party’s morals. I think her film glorified the nazi party while straying away from their goals of war and death.

My question is: how does this case apply to modern day attempted censorship of art?

fignewton11
Boston, MA
Posts: 20

Art Is Always Connected to the Artist

While Riefenstahl is not the one responsible for the murder of millions of people or even the idea behind the genocide, she is certainly in part responsible for enabling the Nazis and creating propaganda that allowed Hitler and the Nazi Party to gain so much power. After hand selecting which shots to include in the movie, Riefenstahl knew exactly what kind of image she was creating of Hitler and the Nazis. Every choice she made about the movie was calculated and intentional to glorify Hitler and the Nazi Party. Even if she felt she was in a position in which she could not say “no” to making the movie, as she spoke about in her autobiography, she certainly could have edited the movie differently in a way that did not sensationalize the Nazis in such an extreme way. What she describes as “giving cinematic shape to actual events without falsifying them,” I think would be better described as propaganda. Riefenstahl was able to edit and distort what she filmed to idealize Hitler, rather than include an entirely accurate depiction of his supporters and who he truly was.


Riefenstahl did not really seem to have much of a motive for creating the film other than the pressure she was receiving from Hitler to create it. In “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl,” Riefenstahl seemed to believe at the time she was making the film that it did not promote any harmful ideas, which may have been true, However, as Hitler’s power expanded it is clear what an impact support for Hitler played in enabling him to commit genocide. I find it interesting that Riefenstahl commented in the film “If I’d known what the film would bring me, I’d never have made it,” rather than what the film would play a role in bringing millions of people. Considering Riefenstahl was documented supporting Hitler in 1940, she seems most concerned with what unfolded in terms of her own career as a result of the film, rather than the impact it had on enabling Hitler. The countless critics that believe the film is propaganda weigh out her voice claiming it wasn’t meant to be, because she may only say that because it is the most convenient answer.


Riefenstahl is entirely responsible for what the film contains because she is the one that edited it to create such a powerful image of Hitler and the Nazi Part. While she did not change what happened in real life, and obviously not all Nazi support can be attributed to Triumph of the Will, it certainly played a large role in persuading many Germans to support the Nazi government. Riefenstahl is responsible for what scenes were put in the film and which were not, and she is responsible for the effect this had on viewers. As SwedishFish said, you cannot “separate the art from the artist,” especially in such a harmful context. The filming, the editing, and the idealization of the Nazi party were all choices made by Riefenstahl, so I believe she is responsible for the way the art was received. As the creator of the art, she owns the responsibility for its perception and the message it sends. That being said, I do not believe she was a perpetrator in the Holocaust, but she was definitely more than just a bystander. I believe she was an enabler because she promoted Hitler and Nazi powers, and clearly showed support for them at the time even if she denied it later. Her “early conviction that Hitler could ‘save’ Germany” (NYT) was far more than just standing by and letting Hitler act; it was active support. Not only this, but she also created a documentary that created support from other German people for Hitler and the Nazis. This is more than just passive bystander-ism, it is enabling and perpetuating Nazi power.


While Riefenstahl had to go through “deNazification,” I am not sure what other punishment would be appropriate. Though her film created Nazi support that had harmful effects on millions of people, it is unclear to me whether she understood the scale at which her documentary would inspire support and the harm this support would cause. Even after seeing its effects, however, she continued to support Hitler and the effects of her film were irreversible. I think losing her filmmaking career was an adequate punishment, because she lost a means to express her ideas, particularly harmful ones. As others have mentioned, censoring art or an artist can be a tricky issue, but I think it is justified if the art is used in a way that promotes harmful an/or hateful ideas.


An artist is entirely responsible for the work they create, but I do not think they necessarily bear all responsibility for the reaction it revokes. If an artist’s art is misinterpreted or misconstrued, as art is often subject to a viewer’s interpretation, I do not think that is the responsibility of the artist. That being said, artists do bear responsibility for their art when the art they choose to create intentionally provokes a reaction that is harmful or could lead to harm, as is true for Leni Riefenstahl. I think in Riefenstahl’s case, the consequences of her art were pretty explicit and she faced the consequences by losing her career. I do not think, however, that artists are responsible for the consequences of their work if these consequences are created by individuals who use art as a vehicle to promote harmful ideas that they already had.


In response to @SleezMoth’s question, I do not think this applies much to modern censorship of art because the art was never censored in this instance. People all across Germany were able to see it at the time and form opinions on it, just as we were able to view it in class and form our own (arguably more informed) opinions on it. I do not think recognizing the film’s problematic past and implications is censorship. In a more modern context, however, I do wonder if a film like this would be allowed to air freely. After recognizing the propaganda of the past and present, I think people today would be better able to recognize such a film as propaganda and make informed decisions on the veracity of the film, rather than the blind trust and following that occurred in Germany.


Riefenstahl states clearly in “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl” that she did not believe (at the time at least) that the film she made was propaganda and intended for it to be apolitical. My question for the next post is: Do you think Hitler’s intentional choice for Leni, an artist, to make the film rather than any documentary filmmaker indicated his desire for the film to be more propaganda than informational, i.e., do you think Hitler knew/intended for the film to wind up being propaganda rather than a simple documentary?

Junior
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Riefenstahl was friends with Hitler, and she got away with it.

Leni Riefenstahl was not a good person. She helped the Nazis grow and had a truly incalculable effect on the power of the Nazis. We will never know exactly why she decided to do it. She knew what the Nazis stood for, the racial purity part was not exactly said under anybody's breath. If she didn't know that about the Nazis, than she was a tremendously gullible idiot who couldn't figure out that the Nazis wanted to kill people despite being friends with Adolf Hitler. It is far more likely that she saw an opportunity for fame and power in the Nazis. She was given a tremendous budget so that she could try techniques on a scale that had never been done before. It is also highly unlikely that her involvement was purely utilitarian, she was friends with Hitler and her works were clearly inspired by more than just cash.

So, Riefenstahl knew what she was doing. Does that mean that she is is responsible for the effect her works had on people?

Yes. Of course she does. All artists are.

Part of the deal of making art is that it affects people. We consider a good artist responsible for the positive affect they have on people. We don't say that Shakespeare isn't responsible for the joy that English teachers get out of him, because of course he was. He made it.
Somebody could then argue that that responsibility doesn't translate to legal responsibility, because the artists intention should also be factored in. One of Stephen King's works was repeatedly cited by school shooters, but we don't consider him responsible for those deaths. And that is correct, because the intention of Stephen King wasn't to incite shootings.
Leni Riefenstahl's intention was for people to join the Nazis. Because she was paid to do it.

She made propaganda.
There is no working around that, she purposefully made a movie that had the purpose of making people think that the Nazis were great. So she holds responsibility for the evils of the Nazis. It's not like she accidentally made a movie that just happened to show the Nazis and Hitler as divine entities sent by heaven. She didn't accidentally snip together the shots to cut out undesirables from the film and she didn't bumble her way into orchestrating the score to swell whenever Hitler appears.

dewdropdoll
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Responsibility

Triumph of the Will is definitely an interesting film to say the least, and in my opinion, there is no doubt that the film is one that portrays a message that glorifies the Nazi Party, hence making it a propaganda film. After watching the brief interview with Riefenstahl in the film, The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, it is interesting to see how she defends herself and continuously claims that it was in no way propaganda or a political film. Through her autobiography, she also gets across that she had originally not wanted to make the film to begin with, and even had a different person, Ruttman, assigned to create the film for Hitler in her place. However, she ended up accepting the job because she was slightly threatened by Hess and Hitler to make the film under the circumstance that she would be fully supported and given control and financial aid for everything in the making of the film. It should also be noted though that another big reason for why she went to HItler to talk about the film in the first place was because she did not like what Ruttman had created, and also felt the need to create something better. In no way did she say that she thought to not accept the job because it seemed wrong and that it supported people who strived for eliminating others based on what they considered to make them “weak” or “inferior”, but rather that she felt like she could not match the expectations held for her. For that, I feel like she does hold some sort of responsibility because there is no way that she did not know what the Nazi political agenda was, even though she claims that she was not really involved with politics and poses the question on how anyone could possibly know who can assure us the right kind of future. It is true that one can not really predict the future and what someone would do as a leader, but it wasn’t like she was completely ignorant of race theories and what the Nazi party stood for.


I think that Reifenstahl definitely holds some sort of responsibility for at least the messages she portrayed through her film. Every little detail, from the scenery to the camera work, were done on purpose, and we can see that through her detailing of the film-making in her autobiography and when she shows us different scenes in the excerpt of the film. She writes in her obituary that she has nothing to be guilty of since she did not intend to harm anybody through her film, nor did she ever join the party. It is true that she may have not intended for such things to happen, however, she did create this image that the Nazis and Hitler were sent from God to save Germany. She intentionally edited the speeches with Hitler’s message of the same theme of “given from God” that caused the audience to think “hey, the Nazis aren’t bad people— what they’re advocating for is what God would have wanted”. Whether or not she should be held responsible for what happened during the Nazi era and the Holocaust could be argued. In my opinion, I do not necessarily think that she is responsible for every individual’s actions who watched her film, but she should acknowledge that her film had that kind of effect. She should be held responsible for what the film contains and the very powerful effect that it had on audiences because she made the film, and intended for it to appear to the audience in a certain way. She enables these thoughts in people, and should be held responsible for it. I think that this goes for any artist out there who shares their work to the public— they all hold some sort of responsibility for the message that their work portrays. I don’t think that Riefenstahl should’ve been punished in the same way as Nazi party members were punished, as it is true that she didn’t directly harm anybody through her film. But, I do think that the punishment she got— not being able to get funding for any more films— was sufficient enough. I don’t really know what other punishment there could be for a case like this.


In response to @fignewtoon11’s question about if Hitler knew/intended for the film to wind up being propaganda rather than a simple documentary, I 100% think he intended for the film to wind up being propaganda. It does not make sense for Hitler, a political figure, to want a film that does not contain any messages promoting himself or his party’s agenda. I feel like when someone like Hitler asks you to make a film about himself, it is very clear that he wants something political aka propaganda— and I think Riefenstahl knew that as well.


As for my question, do you think that Riefenstahl’s argument that she was never anti-Semitic or a member of the Nazi party makes her any better of a person or excuses the fact that she made such a film?

blueslothbear
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Riefenstahl and Pewdiepie: Are they similar?

I think that Leni Riefenstahl has some responsibility for the number of people who joined the Nazi Party, but is in now way responsible for what the Nazis did with that following. The way I see it, she increased the number of people who helped perpetrate or stood by the Holocaust, and the perpetrators and bystanders are the people who are at fault for what happened in the Holocaust.


I think that she said the truth about why she made the film. I think that she was worried about having any outside influence on her art, and was glad when Hitler promised that she wouldn't. She really only made the film to procure a future for her films, and was not motivated by any support for the nazi party.


I think that Leni was a bystander. She didn't use her films to document the horrors of the Holocaust, but she didn't support the Nazis in any way, and clearly regrets having made the Triumph of the Will. Because of this, I don't think that she deserves any punishment.


I think that an artist should never be held accountable for their art, as long as the message is interpreted instead of blatant. For example, a piece of art with a slur or message against a population is not ok and the artist should be held accountable for their art.


@Dewdropdoll I don't think that her assertion that she is not an anti-semetic person excuses her making of the film, but it does make me see her as a better person than if she said "Yes, I am/was a Nazi and I don't regret making this film."


My question is do you think that youtube videos and creators should be held accountable for their role in the right wing radicalization process? Should creators like Pewdiepie be banned or punished for their role in tragedies such as the Christchurch shooting? When is media like a youtube video or an anonymous post cross the line and the person who made it held accountable?

slothman
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

The other side

Triumph of the Will did more than just represent the nazi party, it was a major contribution to its popularity at this early age. This directly influenced the popularity of the nazi party across Europe and led to many people joining the party after watching the movie. The movie definitely helped out the Nazi party, but I do not think that Leni Riefenstahl carries any responsibility for the consequences that followed. Her job was to sway the people and create a work of art out of the nazi party, which she did very well in the movie. She made the bad seem good, which in turn swayed lots of people through propaganda. She definitely takes part of the blame for doing that, but she didn't directly participate in the propaganda that ended up diminishing all competition. In the mind of Riefenstahl, I don't think she thought any harm was going to be done by this movie, all she knew is that she was going to get a big paycheck for making them look good. Like other people mentioned, I don't think she was an extremist nazi, but nor was she anti-nazi.

When asked whether she was a perpetrator in the holocaust, I don't believe that is true. If we are going off what we know and what we believe, she was nothing more than a person on the side making a movie and getting money, she didn't have any true direct involvement with the plans of the nazis. You can make the argument that it was art and that no matter how offensive or negative art can be it is still art and holds special importance, and although this piece of art caused lots of harm and destruction, it is art nonetheless.

Art holds a special significance in our lives, and even if it is destruction they have no power on the destruction it holds or the significance it has, art is art, it speaks for itself. Even if people don't like a certain type of art, it should not be silenced. In conclusion, I don't think it is her fault for the holocaust and the movie is no excuse for that.

To answer the previous question. I think youtube videos and things like that have their own policy. When talking about YouTube, they already have a filter and a notion of what can be there and what is removed, and most times offensive videos are taken down by youtube. Still, though, I think unless people are breaking the law, you can release your feelings or thoughts as you wish. My question is: If a movie like this was made today about a government party, what do you think the people's reaction would be?



therapeuticsoup
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Reply to @slothman

To answer @slothman's question, I believe that there already are many videos and small films promoting a political party or governmental role. We can see these on TV as short commercials between TV shows to encourage people to vote for "so-and-so" for senate/mayor/etc. I think that people would react according to what they believe in. If a person doesn't want a certain person in the government, they may mock the film or ridicule it, but probably not pay much attention to it. If somebody does want that person in office, they may spread the video around to their friends and agree with the message of the video. It's all personal opinion and morals. Because social media is so prominent today, different sets of ideas spread more rapidly than in the 1940s where maybe only one propaganda film was made a year, so it's easier to find information about certain political parties online and harder to fall into the trap of propaganda (but it's still very possible).

cabbage
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 16

Triumph of the will

After watching clips of the film, it totally seemed like propaganda. It is reasonable to think that Leni Riefenstahl did it to help her career at a time when artists were struggling. It raised the popularity of the nazi party and contributed to their gain of power by glorifying the nazi party. She claims to have made it solely for art and not politically, but it is hard to ignore the intent behind many scene as she created something purposley idealizing the nazi party.

I believe she was an enabler because she promoted Hitler and nazi powers, and clearly showed support for them at the time. I do not know the extent to which she was forced to participate because she did support them even if she denies it later, but I think she should be held responsible for the making of the film. Even if it was not all of it, she was in charge of editing the film and chose to distort Hitler’s reality.

She was punished by not being able to make films ever again and I would say that that is fair. This way she can’t make another propaganda film that promotes hate. However, she was more upset by what the film had done to her career than what the film had done to contribute to the nazis power. Her inability to take away the main point of all of this, shows that she has not learned, so I’m not sure if the punishment she was given was sufficient.

If a movie like this was made about a government party today I think, it would be a lot easier to spread, but hopefully harder to accept. Social media makes sharing things a lot easier, and people are influenced by what they see. If many Germans cited seeing Triumph of the Will as an event that persuaded them to support the Nazi government, I doubt it would be difficult for people to also be persuaded by any other governemt propaganda. The easier it is to access something, the more people will see it that’s why social media is so culty, so it wouldn’t be nice if a film like this was circulating. However, there are also people who speak up on issues like propaganda and are changing things by questioning and defying authority. So hopefully they would have something to say about a film like this about now. My question is: Do you think an artist could ever separate themselves from their art?


UnrecognizableUsername
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

If a film is considered dangerous, who bears responsibility for the consequences?

If she was politically active or not, Leni Riefenstahl served the Nazis by making Triumph of the Will, which inspired more Germans to join the Nazi party. The film was a blatant adoration of Hitler and the Nazi party. The interview with Riefenstahl was interesting because of the way she twisted questions and became defensive. She clearly said no when asked if filmmakers had a lot of mainstream impact in the days before radio and television, and if artists like herself had a particular obligation. Riefenstahl argued that since so many Germans were Nazis, those with the power to fight and be upstanders were completely exempt from obligation. In all seriousness, I believe that everything Riefenstahl said in her autobiography was skewed to make her seem guiltless. The way she expresses herself and draws the scene makes it look as if she was just a sweet little girl who tried to make whatever movie she wanted and was made to work for Hitler. None of the other facts or stories about her and her work with Hitler fit this. I believe it was incredibly naive of her to say that she has nothing to be ashamed of. She was very astute about the way she shot and directed her films, and she was well aware of their potential effects. Riefenstahl bears some blame for the part her film played during the Nazi period and the Holocaust, including her lack of involvement in the project and her apolitical motivation. While her film did not directly address anti-Semitism or the race ideology, it did support the Nazi party. Artists, in my opinion, should be held accountable for their jobs. Even if it is an accidental decision that leads to violence, it may encourage future artists to think twice before making a similar error that results in human lives being lost.


To answer @therapeuticsoup’s question of “Do you think Leni's punishment was enough for the film she created which enhanced the Nazi party and what they stood for?”: Riefenstahl should have been held responsible for her film and its indirect contribution to the Nazi party's agenda. However, I believe she should have been barred from making any additional films if she was still alive.


Question for the next reader: Do you believe what Riefenstahl said in her novel, and if not, why do you suppose she wrote it only to bend the truth?

The Imposter
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Artist's Responsibility

Originally posted by UnrecognizableUsername on May 09, 2021 23:18

If she was politically active or not, Leni Riefenstahl served the Nazis by making Triumph of the Will, which inspired more Germans to join the Nazi party. The film was a blatant adoration of Hitler and the Nazi party. The interview with Riefenstahl was interesting because of the way she twisted questions and became defensive. She clearly said no when asked if filmmakers had a lot of mainstream impact in the days before radio and television, and if artists like herself had a particular obligation. Riefenstahl argued that since so many Germans were Nazis, those with the power to fight and be upstanders were completely exempt from obligation. In all seriousness, I believe that everything Riefenstahl said in her autobiography was skewed to make her seem guiltless. The way she expresses herself and draws the scene makes it look as if she was just a sweet little girl who tried to make whatever movie she wanted and was made to work for Hitler. None of the other facts or stories about her and her work with Hitler fit this. I believe it was incredibly naive of her to say that she has nothing to be ashamed of. She was very astute about the way she shot and directed her films, and she was well aware of their potential effects. Riefenstahl bears some blame for the part her film played during the Nazi period and the Holocaust, including her lack of involvement in the project and her apolitical motivation. While her film did not directly address anti-Semitism or the race ideology, it did support the Nazi party. Artists, in my opinion, should be held accountable for their jobs. Even if it is an accidental decision that leads to violence, it may encourage future artists to think twice before making a similar error that results in human lives being lost.


To answer @therapeuticsoup’s question of “Do you think Leni's punishment was enough for the film she created which enhanced the Nazi party and what they stood for?”: Riefenstahl should have been held responsible for her film and its indirect contribution to the Nazi party's agenda. However, I believe she should have been barred from making any additional films if she was still alive.


Question for the next reader: Do you believe what Riefenstahl said in her novel, and if not, why do you suppose she wrote it only to bend the truth?

After watching Triumph of the Will in class, it was pretty clear that with the way Hitler and the Nazi party were portrayed, this was a propaganda film. This being what it is, propaganda made per the request of Hitler no less, surely Riefenstahl should be held responsible for a good deal of the consequences that came about from the film. As an artist, one definitely knows that their work could impact others in any sort of way, so for Riefenstahl to dismiss the effects of artwork as not having any impact or for her to say she holds no sort of obligation is just blatant ignorance. Her autobiography is riddled with gaslighting claims such as how she portrayed working with Hitler and how she tried to rid herself of guilt and evidence by writing about herself in a certain light. This attempt to shake off responsibility, in my opinion, makes it more clear how guilty she really is, or else she wouldn't go out of her way to do so. As an artist and filmmaker, she knows what she's doing in that aspect. Thus, I think she's definitely an enabler because while not the direct perpetrator of the antisemitism and horrific crimes the Nazi party did commit, she did help foster the growth of this ideology with her film and the light she portrayed them in. Although, the telegram where she is essentially praising and agreeing with the Nazi party's ideas is further evidence that she was enabling everything that happened during and after her film. Given what her career is, I think it is fair to both punish her and have that punishment center around what she does: art. She shouldn't be able to do so again. Regardless of whether or not she truly intended to spread dangerous Nazi propaganda, the fact of the matter is that she did and it had terrible consequences that she should have beared the brunt of responsibility for.


To answer @UnrecognizableUsername's question, I don't. I believe she knew the impact of her actions and that all that she said was just a cliche move to shake off the guilt/responsibility of what she did, because she had to have known what she was doing.. She was a filmmaker!!


My question for the next reader: How much responsibility do you think propaganda, such as Triumph of the Will, has when it comes to the actions of the groups that the propaganda is for? (ex. the Nazis) Is it a minor or major effect? How can we avoid brainwashing/propaganda through any medium of art in the future? Can we?

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