posts 16 - 29 of 29
crazyarmadillo
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

Triumph of the Will sounds like a courageous movie seeking to encourage individuals to do better, but no. It is a Nazi propaganda movie that was a huge part in promoting Nazism. Triumph of the Will is a film. People love films. Film transcends documentaries to fantasy plots. Hitler’s manipulation of using film to promote Nazism led to a horrific Holocaust. In Triumph of the Will, Hitler is seen standing in a large crowd of Hitler youth, appreciating him. That scene makes people look at him on television and wonder how does one person hail more than 10,000 people in one day. It sparks an interest into how powerful that man can be and ignited the question of conformity: If one man is able to move 10,000 people, then he must be great and one should follow him. In the Mass Psychology of Fascist Cinema, it states that “feeling at one with the authoritarian father figure makes a person feel at one with the fatherland.” Hitler became the representation of German pride. The scene made Aryan Germans feel superior that they had this power, this status, never once given to them before. The rallying of youths surrounding Hitler was so influential because youth at homes seeing this movie would believe that by joining, they could do influential things just like Hitler. It gave them pride in their country and made them feel more mature for their young age. However, that scene also sparked fear in non- Aryan Germans because it showed the great extent of Hitler’s power. The non-Aryans were a minority in this case because they were not treated with the high respect a Aryan German would have. They would soon expect their rights to be taken away along with their pride. In the scene with the Reich Labor Corps, they are speaking of the great things that the Nazi party will achieve. They speak of fields that farmers will have and abundance of food. That scene appeals to all of Germany. Who wouldn’t want an abundance of food and fields they could grow their crops on? It gave hope to people watching from the television that Hitler could achieve such power for Germany.

Reifenstahl’s legacy should be recognized, however her act of directing this film should always be a prominent part of her legacy. She did influence several movies such as Star Wars, but that does not take away her involvement with the Holocaust. Reifenstahl’s claim of not knowing Nazi ideology is taken into account, however it is skeptical how she was able to glorify the Nazi party remarkably. That glory was extremely prominent in her film and moved millions to think that what the Nazi party was doing was the greatest thing in German history. Reifenstahl cannot be separated from this film as it proved to show her talent in directing and her influence on other Germans. It is Reifenstahl’s effect on Triumph of the Will that cannot be forgotten because it is a powerful piece in history that must be examined and seen through the lens of everyone.

crazyarmadillo
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by Gaius on January 19, 2024 17:43

The chief thing that makes Triumph of the Will historically complicated, is that without the context of the time and what the symbols and people throughout the movie represent, it seems completely divorced from the Nazi ideology that it appears to glorify. Watching the film, it presents foremostly as an art film, with beautiful shots and directing, and without the political commentary commonly found in a propaganda film. As said in The Mass Psychology of Fascist Cinema, “Although Triumph of the Will was made about the party convention, it does not really articulate any specific political policy or substantive ideology.” In it of itself, Triumph of the Will presents as a film of German glory, whose purpose is not to bring people into the sphere of influence of the Nazi party, but to bring pride to those who already follow that political stance. In the film, there is nothing specifically designated as anti-semitic or explicitly stating any other goal than the glory of the German people. This effect could serve to assuage some of the fears of the non-German people living in Germany, especially those who were specifically targeted by Nazi propaganda; this film could have been seen as the Nazi party moving away from some of their more extremist stances, and more towards a general goal of the liberation of Germany from their political and economic strife. The greatest displays of the power of the Nazi party in the movie are shown in the wide shots, which serve to exhibit a sense of unity in the party, and make any member of the party watching the movie feel as if they were part of something great and large. These demonstrations could impact those who were not part of the party by promoting this idea of unity, and possibly influencing them to join for the sole purpose of doing something “great”.

The thing that Reifenstahl stresses most vehemently throughout the documentary is that she had no choice other than to make this film when asked by Hitler. This is a very interesting assertion, since it is very possibly true that there could be dangerous consequences for going against his wishes. This claim also brings to light the idea of how well she did her job of making this movie, and how that should impact how Leni Reifenstahl is remembered. It is completely reasonable to suggest that she would have been putting herself in grave danger if she had refused to complete this film, and it is likely that she would have seen herself as compromising her artistic integrity by doing a bad job on the movie, so to her it likely seemed like she had no other choice. Since this movie was made at the beginning of the Nazi regime, it would be reasonable to believe that she knew less about the political goals of the Nazi party, and since they had yet to complete their more ghastly actions, one could say she had no reason to believe that her film would be used as such a powerful piece of media to further such a horrible movement. The interesting thing about separating the art from the artist when it comes to Leni Reifenstahl it seems to be the opposite of what is common; she claims to be apolitical, but her art served to glorify and further the Nazi movement. Her legacy will be, and should be, tied to the work she did for the Nazi party, because it is impossible to have any appreciation for her work without first marveling at the horrific and artful portrayal of such a horribly destructive movement. But, as many filmmakers have done, it is possible to recognize the artistic genius behind her work while also condemning its contents. The majority of her actions in regard to the creation of this movie and what it led to were done out of ignorance, not malice, but she still should be held accountable to the effect that her work had.

I agree that Reifenstahl's work should be tied in with the film because that film is what led people's appreciation for other films. The constant showing of the Nazi symbol, I thought was also a sense of unity and I liked how instead of focusing on certain scenes, you focused on the general shots that she took to display unity. Great job.

deepwaternearshore
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Originally posted by Fig Leaf Tree on January 21, 2024 15:27

Triumph of the Will’s effectiveness lies in its ability to convey emotions, rather than just listing facts and statements. This is the significance of having the propaganda film made by an artist and not a member of the party - artists know how the most minute details can make the audience unconsciously internalize the message of the piece. This is also the reason why Leni Riefenstahl is responsible for the impact of the film.

It is true that Riefenstahl did not orchestrate or verbally express sympathy with the events she recorded, but her choices of camera, angle, lighting, and transitions affirm the Nazi ideology. Many shots of Hitler have the camera below him, facing up, establishing his god-like role. Furthermore, as expressed by Riefenstahl herself in The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, she used a telephoto lens in some crowd scenes to make them seem more densely-packed. The impact of that artistic choice is that it exaggerates the power and support the party has, threatening those who are not part of the group. Additionally, in one of the early scenes of Hitler’s arrival, the filmmaker uses specific lighting conditions to lighten his hair, to align it more with the Aryan ideal. In fact, the filmmaker captures the Aryan ideal in many scenes by cutting to images of blonde women, children, and workers, to establish who Hitler is speaking to when he addresses the crowds in a positive manner. When Hitler tells the crowd that they are the blood of Germany, the future of Germany, the hope for Germany, the filmmaker lets the audience know that he is speaking to a very limited group of people, even more specific than the crowd that was actually present. By doing this, she contributes to the idea of racial purity in a subtle way. After viewing the film, a light-skinned blonde person would feel empowered, knowing their leader cares about them. Those who don't fit this stereotype walk away knowing that when Hitler imagines an ideal future, they are not in it.

Leni Riefenstahl did more than simply complete a commissioned film, because she made certain artistic decisions that she was not directly told to make. It is very unlikely that a Nazi official told her which lens or angle to use, so the Nazi ideology conveyed through those artistic decisions are her responsibility. As stated in The Mass Psychology of Fascist Cinema, “she created, rather than merely documented, an event.” The filmmaker could have documented the events surrounding the Nuremberg rally, but instead she specifically and subtly glorified the crowds, the blondeness, the leader, and the value of order and obedience.

The damage caused by the film was not only in what it showed, but also what it didn’t. The film portrays an exclusively positive Nazi event, excluding the daily antisemitism, the physical abuse faced by boys in the Hitler Youth, and the other horrific components of Nazi Germany. The victims of the Nazis are not in the film, giving off the impression that they were so unimportant, they didn’t even need to be mentioned. This also made the viewer of the film much more comfortable. For people considered Aryan in 1930s Germany, watching the film would be like a vacation for their brain. The gorgeous scenery and music, the smiling faces of the crowds, and the optimistic words of the chancellor, gave them pride in their nation, without the guilt of thinking about those who were excluded from the idea of a perfect Germany. Germans who were not yet 100% supporting the Nazis were lulled into the collective dream of an exclusionary utopia. Additionally, Leni Riefenstahl specifically edited out moments that made Hitler human, such as rubbing his nose, coughing, or making a statement that didn’t generate huge applause. This gave all viewers the impression that he was not only above flaws, but above humanity. When a leader is portrayed this way, people who already supported him are then less likely to question his statements or actions, and those who didn’t support him were made to think that they were up against a godly force.

Your description of the artistic choices that Leni Riefenstahl made to create the persuasive film Triumph of the Will, is exceptionally well thought out and covers a wide range effective strategies Riefenstahl uses without making the paragraph difficult to read. The connection you make between Riefenstahl's artistic choices and how that undermines her stance of being apolitical and making an apolitical film are strong. I appreciate how you start out your response with an idea that you support throughout your piece, especially later on with your stance on how "the damage caused by the film was not only in what it showed, but also in what it didn't." Great writing!

0_0
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Power of Propaganda--Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935)

Triumph of the Will is one of the most common types of propaganda that later is seen as historical evidence about what propaganda was like in the era of Hitler. This film was made to showcase power since it pushes for the nationalism of Nazi ideology by how intimidating and overbearing the soldiers look in the film. They are depicted as strong willed and confident which invokes fear in the people who the Nazi’s were against. The multiple clips of groups of soldiers holding the Nazi flag instilled a feeling of nationalism and powerfulness into Germans which would make them also want to push this ideology. Especially after all the pride they had been stripped of after World War 2, they would want to support any kind of plan that would bring back their former glory. The film was made with the intention to spread Hitler’s nationalism as supported by the article "The Mass Psychology of Fascist Cinema” when Tomasulo states “Hitler repeatedly stressed that one could not sway the masses with arguments, logic, or knowledge, only with feelings and beliefs…the documentary establishes a “cult of personality” around its “star,” a mystical aura associated with Nature, religion, and a “folkish” family-based patriotism”. To the Germans, the film was meant to give them a sense of security in the Nazis which would further German belief into this ideology that is preached which would not have happened without the filming talent of Leni Riefenstahl. When it comes to individuals who were not considered Aryan or were different from mainstream German culture, the type of language that Hitler used could have been seen as very isolating to them and the military march scenes show just how powerful and threatening the Nazi army was. Hitler, in his speech, constantly referenced just Germans that would move forward to become powerful and strong together not acknowledging any of the other civilians who were living in Germany. This message could have been seen as a direct threat, that in the Nazi world they are considered outsiders. If this is the case, it means that the strong military army depicted is coming for them and they have a target on their back. For a lone citizen watching the Nazi believing soldiers could be seen as an intimidation factor. When it comes to the person who created the Triumph of the Will; Leni Riefenstahl is not a person who should be remembered in a gracious light. Despite her being known as a talented filmmaker that doesn't change the fact that she filmed a work of propaganda. Riefenstahl claimed that she was “apolitical” and did not believe in the Nazi ideology yet someone who is seriously opposed to the grotesque ideologies that Nazis preached wouldn't be willing to film a movie that furthers their propaganda to the masses. In an excerpt from “Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir” it states, “For the first time I saw Hitler angry with me. He snapped, ‘Have you forgotten whom you’re talking to?’ He stood up and barked, “You’re behaving like a stubborn mule. I was only thinking of you. But if you don’t want to do it, then let’s drop it’”. Riefenstahl might have been scared of Hitler but she was still given the choice in whether or not to make the film and she chose to go through with it.To the Germans, the film ended up giving them a sense of security in the Nazis which would further their belief into this ideology that is preached which would not have happened without the film by Riefenstahl. In her time she was a very well known filmer which is why Hitler wanted her to be the one to produce it but due to this one film it will forever be stuck with all her other works. No matter how beautiful her work is, it must be acknowledged that she decided to also make a piece of propaganda. She can be remembered as a good filmmaker but cannot be separated from the work she did for the Nazi regime. Her actions of producing this film for the Nazi party had real historical consequences which is why her work cannot be separated from her as a person because it wasn't just a work that blew over with time, this film is what furthered the treatment of non Aryans and led to such heinous acts such as the holocaust. The art and artist are one and will forever be a reflection of each other, they are bound together.
HighAltitude
Posts: 9

The Power of Propaganda: Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935)

Leni Riefenstahl has attempted to separate herself from her work, stating that it was her job and nothing more. However, due to her status and pride as an artist/film director, she should take responsibility for Triumph of the Will because it will set a precedent for all artistry. Creators will learn that they cannot view their creations as byproducts of work, rather they will view them as extensions of themselves, making them more aware and responsible for what they put out into the world. This would prevent others from creating something that brings negative effects, then absolving all responsibility from it whenever they want.
Triumph of the Will is an enabler of the Nazi regime. It is a powerful tool for Nazi propaganda during times of discourse and stress in Germany. By presenting the regime in a brighter light, through nationalistic imagery such as Hitler’s speech being dramatized, empowers and strengthens the German people’s trust in it. The film also makes the regime seem larger and more impenetrable than it may actually be with Leni’s use of footage containing the parade of stormtroopers, discouraging any form of resistance or rebellion as it seems hopeless. Many other students such as Mastermind26 and fridakahlo216 have pointed out more cinematic techniques present in Triumph of the Will that glorifies Hitler and the Nazi regime. As Tomasulo quotes in The Mass Psychology of Fascist Cinema, “We are convinced that films constitute one of the most modern and scientific means of influencing the masses” (quoted in Downing 21)” (Tomasulo 101). Any film, regardless of its quality and contribution to the media, must never be separate from its intentions and history, or else society would be perpetrating the idea that as long as something is considered art, it is okay when it is not.In her autobiography, Riefenstahl describes her interactions with Hitler regarding the creation and commission of the film. She references how Hilter found her inexperience in the party was an advantage in the messaging of the film as it would only capture their essentials rather than the “boring” aspects. Despite knowing how her lack of knowledge enhances the Nazi propaganda within the film, she goes on to publish her work. This is proof that we cannot take Riefanstahl’s word to heart. She is not truly “apolitical”, she is supporting the Nazi party whether she is aware or not. Triumph of the Will and Leni Riefenstahl demonstrate why artist and art can’t be separated when there are dark and serious consequences involved as they are inherently related. Any attempt to remove the art from its consequences and artist diminishes how destructive/dangerous the media initially was. However, as Mastermind26 mentioned, Leni Riefenstahl can continue to be remembered as a pioneer of film while also being remembered as the person who birthed Triumph of the Will.
bobboston28
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14
  • Triumph of the Will is a powerful propaganda tool by appealing to the patriotic nature of the German people, but also invoking pressure for them to conform shown by the shots of mass gatherings at rallies. Propaganda does not just include text from slogans, but also drawings such as symbols. Symbols are easier to remember and though they may seem harmless, prominent symbols during Nazi Germany, like the swastika, carry strong feelings of hatred towards Jewish people. Swastika symbols were evident throughout the film, making it almost impossible for viewers to forget it. Propaganda films will only highlight the “positive” aspects of a certain group or leader through the use of scenes that display the common people’s awe towards them. There were frequent zoomed-in shots of young boys’ faces that shared feelings of genuine awe and excitement over the sight of Hitler. Many of these boys were a part of the Hitler youth, where many were barely children. From 12:23-17:57 of the film, members of the Hitler youth are seen thoroughly getting ready for an upcoming rally and boys “just being boys”. This connects back to other propaganda posters that displayed the Nazi’s ideal vision of a perfect German family and nation. The “ideal” man had strong physical attributes and his purpose was to fight in the German army. The Hitler youth aimed to prepare young Aryan boys for future roles in the Nazi and were seen as the face of the future. Through the scenes of the boys preparing themselves, it shows how they took great care in their looks because they were seen as the future faces of Germany. Scenes like these would have the greatest impact on other boys their age because they felt as if showing this group was a “rite of passage”. Over 25,000 children were involved, so it is likely that boys who weren’t enlisted had friends in it, therefore creating more motivation for them to join. As this film was pro-Nazi, its primary target audience were Aryan Germans since they were believed to be the superior race. For those who were not Aryans, the scenes of German workers chanting in unison would create feelings of worry for the future. Hitler amassed a vast, cult-like following that displayed great devotion to him. Because of this, Hitler posed a power and even unstoppable threat to those who weren’t valued by the Nazis. Children did the Heil Hitler salute, which shows how prominent Nazi influence became in Germany. Children typically copy movements or basic words from those around them. At such a young age, they are unable to comprehend that hand motion and the dark meaning behind it. It also showed how people’s love for Hitler occurred behind closed doors and devotion to him was eventually integrated into lessons families taught their children.
  • The work of Riefenstahl should not be separated, in the sense that praising her would also be commending her propaganda film that had such profound consequences. It is false to believe she was forced into creating this film and therefore had no choice since she was considered Aryan by Hitler She would not have been punished for turning down this commission. Leni Riefenstahl certainly created an effective propaganda film of the time, and while one may praise it, there must be a limit as to how high of praise she is held. She is indirectly responsible for the rise of the Nazis, which later evolved to the killings of millions of Jews. She cannot be praised as a great director without acknowledging the overwhelming, dire consequences her film resulted in. Her work was clearly effective in evoking the nationalist feelings of the Germans, emphasizing how the media can have a great effect on society’s attitudes and beliefs. Riefenstahl claims Hitler to have a “terrible, dangerous side” and “wasn’t against it [the film] for political reasons” (The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl). Her main justification of her film is that she had no choice, which is not true because those considered part of the "superior" Aryan race were perfect in Hitler's eyes. Also, if she had truly recognized the dark side of Hitler and the awful acts he did to others, she would have not produced this film. The issue of separating the artist from the art prevails in modern day society with the controversial Kanye West. Though accumulating numerous awards and nominations from his music, he has publicly made antisemitic remarks. He has still kept a huge fan base, with some going as far as to defend him, which begs the question if appreciating the work of a racist or controversial person makes you as bad as them.
bobboston28
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

I like how you commented on the camera work of the film, and how much of the cinematography was intentional in illustrating the idea of "One Germany". There were people of various ages present in the film to show how great of an influence Hitler had on everyone, even to children who were not old enough to comprehend the political state of Germany. I also thought it was important how you added that the film did not explicitly include or state antisemitic remarks. However, many Jews were already aware of the goals of the Nazi party and their resentful views towards Jews. It is very true that the film would invoke fear among non-ordinary Germans because the film was clear to emphasize the seemingly indestructible power and control Hitler held over most of Germany.

Originally posted by Gaius on January 19, 2024 17:43

The chief thing that makes Triumph of the Will historically complicated, is that without the context of the time and what the symbols and people throughout the movie represent, it seems completely divorced from the Nazi ideology that it appears to glorify. Watching the film, it presents foremostly as an art film, with beautiful shots and directing, and without the political commentary commonly found in a propaganda film. As said in The Mass Psychology of Fascist Cinema, “Although Triumph of the Will was made about the party convention, it does not really articulate any specific political policy or substantive ideology.” In it of itself, Triumph of the Will presents as a film of German glory, whose purpose is not to bring people into the sphere of influence of the Nazi party, but to bring pride to those who already follow that political stance. In the film, there is nothing specifically designated as anti-semitic or explicitly stating any other goal than the glory of the German people. This effect could serve to assuage some of the fears of the non-German people living in Germany, especially those who were specifically targeted by Nazi propaganda; this film could have been seen as the Nazi party moving away from some of their more extremist stances, and more towards a general goal of the liberation of Germany from their political and economic strife. The greatest displays of the power of the Nazi party in the movie are shown in the wide shots, which serve to exhibit a sense of unity in the party, and make any member of the party watching the movie feel as if they were part of something great and large. These demonstrations could impact those who were not part of the party by promoting this idea of unity, and possibly influencing them to join for the sole purpose of doing something “great”.

vetoed UN resolution
Posts: 10

Triumph of the Will: Dismantling malaise with the cacophony of jackboots

Triumph of the Will is a powerful propaganda tool, because, as the title suggests, it was designed to counter malaise. The malaise which had dominated Germany since 11:00 AM Paris Time, November 11th 1918. The malaise which Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP used to take over the Reichstag in successive elections by promising to tear down from its status looming over the Weimar Republic. You don't even have to understand the deep political meaning behind Triumph of the Will to feel that sense of malaise being washed away by what feels to be the changing tides of a new era of European history. It's meant to evoke feelings of strength. Not necessarily pride, but awe. Awe for the "New Fatherland" feels conjured as you see those waves of crowds, mostly youngsters, all in one uniform with one creed, raising their arms and the soaring crowd chant of, "Hail Victory!". That is exactly what was intended, frankly. It put the concept of the "Aryan Race" and "Aryan Strength" away from esoteric writings in shady, niche political circles and instead plastered it on what was at the time the world's fastest-growing form of media. I would say, honestly, that Riefenstahl is complicit. Granted, by 1935, no one was going to come along and take power from the Nazis anyways, but the symbolic act of making a contribution to embolden the Nazis' propaganda effort feels like complicity to me. Yes, she was doing her job, but you could see her passion for it in the end product. You can't make impactful art unless you feel such a great deal of passion for whatever subject or muse is before you. She should be remembered as a Nazi, to be perfectly blunt. You can't make something like that and say you "don't actually believe in the cause." I think this is one specific work within which you can't separate anything from anything. Yes, maybe some new techniques of camera work and sound-film relation were pioneered back then in 1935, but I find it hard to use that as an excuse to proclaim admiration for a production within which you can't go a half second without seeing a Swastika, that large, looming, hooked cross of hate. Such examples of praise for film innovation could perhaps be better expressed off the screen in written works, for example. But I stand by what I said in that I believe her to have lived a Nazi (or an ex-Nazi depending on whether she changed her views after the war). A work like that, of such a scale, requires some kind of idealistic and genuine commitment from the artist.


universaldeclarationofhumanrights<3
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

The Power of Propaganda: lent Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935)

The Triumph of the Will is a powerful propaganda tool because it depicts the extremely harsh grip the Nazi’s had on the German people as a fun, happy thing, that united them all and made everyone happy. At the very beginning of the movie, there is a sequence of images that show Adolf Hitler parading through a large German town, and millions of Germans are cheering in the streets as he goes by. The movie shows Germans that were designated Aryans that the Nazi party is the best place for them, as they will be celebrated and uplifted with other people who were designated Aryan. In a contrast to that, people who were not designated Aryan view this film and feel a sense of fear or anxiety, as the Nazi’s have amassed such a large cult-like following that if they decided to mobilize against the “non-Aryans”, there would be nothing they could do to stop the Nazis.

Leni Riefenstahl contributed one of the most powerful propaganda tools to the Nazis. Her movie, The Triumph of the Will, was used to recruit people, especially young boys, into the Hitler Youth, and used to up morale and confidence in the Nazi Party. Because the movie was used so much by Nazi leaders to prove that the Nazi beliefs were the best, and it was almost used to convince people that even though the Nazi’s may have strict rules, they are implementing those rules to create a better society, many could say Leni Riefenstahl deserves to be held accountable for the creation and use of this film. Although she may have started production of the film with just the intention to record the events that were going on at the moment, Riefenstahl edited and put together the footage she captured with intention. The film glorifies the Nazi movement, and ignores the awful oppression and persecution of all people considered “non-Aryan” in Germany and beyond. But, in “The Wonderful Life of Leni Riefenstahl” , Riefenstahl says that she was threatened and intimidated by Hitler and Goebbels when she created a movie that showed the truth of the Nazi Party. Hitler forced her to create a movie that depicted Hitler as an angel, not a devil. So, although the Triumph of the Will was a very disturbing and influential movie, Leni Riefenstahl should not be blamed for these effects.

Leni Riefenstahl was forced to create the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will by Hitler. She did not agree with the Nazi party nor their views. In Leni Riefenstahl’s memoir, she says “I asked Hess to tell me where I could reach Hitler, for I absolutely had to speak to him personally in order to bed him not to force this project on me.” She also goes on to tell how she had complete creative freedom, and Hitler promised that the Nazi party would have no influence on her, and she would not be ordered around by Dr. Goebbels or anyone else. Riefenstahl should be remembered for her artistic filming style, as well as her ability to capture events on film, not the way that her film was used. In this case, the art should be separated from the artist, because the artist was forced to create the art.

boston123
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Triumph of the Will Reflection

Triumph of the Will and other German nationalist propaganda were meant to foster strong feelings of pride and power among German citizens. Leni Riefenstahl uses strategic techniques such as panoramic camera shots, excerpts from speeches, and powerful symbolism to glorify Hitler and the Nazi party. She purposefully portrays Nazi leaders in a positive light despite their evil intentions. At the beginning of Triumph of the Will, Hitler is portrayed like a god as he arrives at his hotel in Nuremberg. After coming down from the sky, thousands of people, young and old, gather on the streets. As he is paraded through town, everyone salutes and cheers. This scene reflects a deep connection between Hitler and the people of Germany and ultimately heightens his image to the audience. In addition, Riefenstahl includes several speeches that Hitler gave, including one from a Hitler Youth rally. Here, Hitler urges for unity and peace among Germans. He emphasizes how the youth are the future of the nation and the party, and they must take responsibility. Throughout this rally, Hitler basically brainwashes the children, and the viewers, into believing everything he says. When he parades through the crowd, it is clear that German youth view him as a god. In another scene from Triumph of the Will showing the Hitler Youth getting ready for a rally, Riefenstahl depicts what a “true” German should look like. All of the boys are strong, athletic, well kept, hardworking, and industrious. Riefenstahl’s purpose behind this scene was to craft an image for what the ideal German should look like to the audience. In addition, this scene For those who are not Aryan, Triumph of the Will definitely instilled fear and anxiety among non-Aryan people.


Although she claims that she was not politically involved with the Nazi party, Leni Riefenstahl is still partially responsible for what the party was able to achieve. She expresses great passion for her work in an interview in “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl,” and this passion is what made the film such a huge success. Triumph of the Will and other forms of propaganda were able to manipulate the minds of the public into believing and worshiping Hitler and Nazi ideology. In large part, Triumph of the Will would not have been so powerful if Riefenstrahl had not directed it because of her expertise for film making. The question of how Riefenstahl should be remembered can be viewed in two different ways. On one hand, Riefenstahl can be remembered as a pioneering filmmaker who introduced so many cinematic techniques. She also did not want to be the director of this film at first, but was eventually convinced. Despite this, it is extremely difficult to separate the artist from the art, and we cannot ignore the consequences and impact of Triumph of the Will. If Riefenstahl truly had opposed the Nazi party and their beliefs, she would have refused to be involved no matter what. Clearly, she was very passionate about her work on this film, indicating that she was not completely apolitical.
Critical Thinker
Posts: 10

The Power of Propaganda

Triumph of the Will was such a powerful propaganda tool because it played off of the emotions of Germans, using feelings as a way of persuasion rather than information. The same scenes that caused immense pride and nationalism in Aryan Germans, those who were considered part of the “in group”, brought fear and horror to the non-Aryan Germans, and all that were considered an “other”, only pushing them further out of the eyes of society. An example of this is the scene from Triumph of the Will that we saw in class, which depicted Hitler addressing the Nazi youth rally and driving through the crowds. From the video perspective, there are quite literally people far as the eye can see, filling up every inch of the crowds, all of whom are extremely excited and enthusiastic about the rally. When Hitler drives through the crowds, he is treated like royalty, saluted to by the masses. It is very easy to see how these crowds of strong, young upstanding citizens which made up the Nazi Youth would cause Aryan Germans to feel powerful, to feel like they were a part of something great, that they were being included in a movement that was unbeatable. However, for everyone that didn’t fit into the perfect German box, that prototype of a “successful” citizen, this scene would bring immense fear. Seeing so many people stand behind and show their support for a party, a man that makes his intentions of eradication clear is horrifying. It makes people feel small in the face of those rallies which fill up as far as the eye can see, like there is not possibly anything they can do other than run or submit. Triumph of the Will was such a powerful propaganda tool because it emphasized the numbers of the Nazi Party, in every scene showing a screen filled with citizens that are committed to the regime, which makes others feel like if so many people subscribe to it, there can’t be anything wrong, and makes those who know it is wrong feel hopeless.

Personally, I do not believe it is fair to hold Leni Riefenstahl responsible for what her film contains, and what it causes to happen in the future. While it would be too far to separate her from the work entirely, I do believe that there is a mix of belief and fame at the time with simply doing the job that she was hired to do, and doing it well. I do not think she should be lauded for her work, but it is unfair to blame her film for the actions that others chose to take in following the Nazi party. According to Leni Riefenstahl´s autobiography, she and Hitler had a complicated relationship; ¨Suddenly Hitler said ¨…¨ I looked at him tenderly. ¨But more than anything I would not want you to have any unpleasant repercussions from your work, or make any new enemies¨ Now I had dark forebodings¨. It seems as though she respected and looked up to Hitler, but also does not seem impossible that she felt threatened into certain parts of the film, even if she does not want to admit it even this far into the future. I believe that even though she had complete freedom over the film, she still had to make something that Hitler approved of, it is clear what would happen if she had refused. Those who say she could have refused making the film altogether do not take into account that someone else would have done it eventually, and there is some truth in how she was simply doing a job for a client, and she did it well. While I do not believe that Leni Riefenstahl should be praised and applauded for the horrifics of the propaganda film, I also do not think that the weight of what it caused should be put on her shoulders.

Starboy
Boston, Massachusettes, US
Posts: 6

Triumph of the Will was so powerful because of the use of cinematography. Triumph of the Will had special angles and camera movements to make Hitler and the Nazis look as imposing and great and big as possible. This would’ve been good for propaganda for many reasons. If you were thinking about rebelling it might make you think again because of how massive it looked. With that many Nazis someone who was anti everything that was going on surely would’ve felt that they were alone in this rebellion and wouldn’t have stood a chance. Additionally, it would’ve increased the romanticized idea of the Nazis. A kid (or anyone really) watching would’ve seen this great group of people who all look united and together with a common goal and they would’ve seen this great big brotherhood where everyone’s equal and who wouldn’t want to join something like that? I think a lot of the scenes would have similar impacts but probably only to similar people. For example, the scene with the workmen chanting together looking united and whatnot, would probably fill a lot of white, cishet, able bodied, and able minded people with pride and happiness and awe and just a flood of so many positive emotions. However, it would have a completely opposite effect on anyone who didn’t fit those categories. Someone who was Jewish or disabled or part of the LGBTQ+ community might have felt afraid for the safety of themself and their loved ones or maybe they felt sadness and grief, knowing that their home wasn’t going to be safe for them anymore. Of course, I’m sure that, like always, there were some outliers in these categories. It was a whole country, there had to be at least one white, cishet, able bodied, and able minded person who, for whatever reason, knew that this was wrong and saw through all the propaganda and felt disgust. And there was surely someone who for whatever reason struggled with internalized racism/ableism/homophobia/transphobia/anti-semitism and weren’t completely opposed to Nazi ideology and the film itself.

Personally, I don’t blame Leni Riefenstahl for making the films that she made. In her memoir, there is a line, “‘...You can and you will do this project.’ It sounded almost like an order.’”, the first part having been spoken by Hitler. In that quote Riefenstahl describes it as an outright order, so it really doesn’t seem like she had much of a choice, and if she wanted to keep herself safe, which I think is a perfectly reasonable priority, she had to make the films, so I don’t think the fact that she made these films in and of itself says much about her morals or who she was as a person or anything really. However, I still think she should take responsibility. Whether it was by choice or not, or whether she supported the Nazis or not just doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, no matter what the reason was, she played an instrumental role in the spread of a massive amount of propaganda. That is still not good under any conditions, no matter how you look at it or what justifications you frame it in; and she should still be held responsible for that.

bowlesfan#1
Charlestown, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Learn to Question Post 6: The Power of Propaganda--Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1935)

The documentary Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefanstahl was a powerful propaganda tool in a multitude of ways. What really amplified its effects, however, was most likely the fact that it was the only film of its kind being exhibited in Germany. In order for the Nazis to fully solidify their influence, they took over the media and only shared things they created or were fine with. This was to prevent any uprisings to occur and to fully implement the Nazi ideology in the minds of all German citizens. In this way, the film’s cinematography was very eye-catching to the audience and was made to do so. Throughout the film the use of transitions with music is very uplifting. Invoking positive feelings to those who watched it. The film also constantly uses symbols of the Nazi regime such as the swastika and eagle. It made it so people were unable to forget about the group and that they were now the strength of Germany. Finally all of the scenes accumulated in the film aimed to showcase the unity, strength, and order of the Nazi party, but nothing about the harsh reality of those who were forced to conform to the group nor the children who were bullied due to their weakness in the Hitler Youth. One example can be seen when Hitler addresses the Hitler Youth at a rally. Before Hitler even comes to center stage everyone is saluting the Fuhrer showing their nationalism and loyalty, which aimed to do the same for those watching the documentary at home. Hitler’s speech is also very encouraging and potent, especially to the individuals that considered themselves Aryan and others who were young. He states to “march triumphantly through Germany today, I know you will join the columns'' and “Before us Germany lies, in us Germany burns, and behind us Germany follows” Those people who were addressed or those who saw the film probably felt an increased amount of pride for their nation and support. Sadly for those not Aryan they most likely felt powerless and angry. As Hitler also stated that “And so you must be peace-loving and courageous at the same time” when in reality he took away Jewish people’s rights and killed them. Yet they could not do anything about it.

Although Leni Riefenstahl was commissioned by the Nazis and Hitler to create this propaganda documentary, I think she should still be held accountable for its production. It states in her autobiography “This amounted almost to a threat. Even so, I was determined to resist taking on this assignment.” Yet after speaking with Hitler her perseverance seemed to switch immediately. I also did some more research on Riefenstahl and found out that she also created two more propaganda films. Enabling the Nazi ideology into millions of Germans. Many people at the time were willing to die for the cause of the Nazis or those who were Jewish were proud to be and died saying so. However, Riefenstahl did not keep her word. The least she could have done was make films that were not that good. Suggesting that she enabled the Nazi ideology into millions of German and that she should be remembered as the filmarker and artist for the Nationalist Socialist Group that caused mass genocide.

tulips
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

The Power of Propaganda: Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will

Leni Reifenstahl’s Triumph of the Will was one of many powerful propaganda tools used during the Holocaust in order to attract others to the Nazi movement. Right in the beginning of the film, the first thing we see is a symbol of an eagle with the Nazi swastika embedded on it. That image and symbol on its own invokes a strong sense of nationalism and used to emphasize the security that would come with joining the Nazi party. Seeing these scenes would make Aryans feel empowered to take control and unify themselves as one but would make non-Aryans feel excluded and alone. Not only was there a symbol of an eagle with the Nazi swastika, but there were various other scenes with things like flags and statues that made people feel patriotism and nationalism towards their country. As we learned previously, there is great power in these symbols and they have the ability to foster the feeling of belonging in a community that had lacked it because of social class or wealth. The beginning scenes of Triumph of the Will had patriotic music as well with parades that can be seen from a bird’s eye view, showing how unified people were under the Nazi Party, drawing more people to the movement. Because there were so many people, there was groupthink that went into play as well as social conformity where many people felt the need to conform if they weren’t Aryan because everyone else thought a certain way and no one wanted to be the odd one out. No one wanted to be the one dissenter in such a large volume of people that thought and acted the same way. If you were a non-Aryan watching the film, you’d realize that so many people are against you and that you may be alone in the pursuit of your human rights and your freedom. The film further depicts many youths very close together and happy with one another, enjoying each other’s company. It attracted people to this feeling of having a family that one never had before had they not joined the Nazi Party. Younger minds are easily convinced by what they see so seeing this made young Aryans even more motivated to join. They wanted to be a part of the future so early on and wanted to find a sense of belonging in such a community that was seen in the film. In addition, the film had the quote “One people, one Furhrer, one Reich, one Germany'' which could’ve been especially impactful to those that were Aryan since they’d feel empowered if they were one where it didn’t matter who everyone was but it mattered more that everyone was united. This film also speaks towards one of the two types of visual propagandas shown at the time to reinforce Nazi ideals – The German Nationalist/Pro-Nazi Party propaganda. It was a very positive film with a light-hearted sense of community surrounding it which pushed others to join the Nazi Party. Though Leni Reifenstahl claims that she was simply doing what she commissioned for, we cannot separate the film from who she was as a person. Reifenstahl does hold responsibility for what happened during the Nazi era and the holocaust because she enabled the Nazi regime to thrive by showing its appeal, amplifying its support and allowing people to excuse the anti-semitic acts committed during the time. There were plenty of other propaganda pieces that were into play and one can argue that the existence of her film wouldn’t have changed how the Nazi party came to be but it did play a part in it by upholding such terrible ideals. Furthermore, it’s important to note that even though Leni Reifenstahl claims she was apolitical when she made this, Tomulasuo’s The Mass Psychology of Facist Cinema states that “Although Triumph of the Will was made about a political convention, it does not really articulate any specific political policy or substantive ideology. Instead preliterate symbolic imagery and vague patriotic appeals are used to address the emotional concerns of the populace”. It doesn’t talk about the policy of the Nazi party but more talks about the feelings that are in it, suggesting a different motive of the film. It acted more as propaganda in comparison to a historical film as it was supposed to be.
posts 16 - 29 of 29