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Spaceman
Posts: 32

Triumph of the Will, a pretty good meal.

Leni Riefenstahl created a masterpiece with Triumph of the Will. The camera work and staging are simply fantastic. In viewing parts of this film, I for sure saw some of the greatest shots I’ve ever seen. The way the editing and pace matched the music made the lack of narration seem normal. A narrator would have ruined the tone set by Riefenstahl. I am sure that if I saw Triumph of the Will when it was released, I would be as encouraged as anyone else.


Riefenstahl does almost too good a job of encouraging someone. One that makes me whole heartedly uncomfortable. With this in mind, it is pretty evident that one would wonder if she has any responsibility for what happened during the Holocaust. I think to answer this question, we have to look at whether or not what she made was propaganda. She believes that it isn’t propaganda, citing that it doesn’t have a narrator telling you what to think. Rather that you have to think about it yourself, and draw your own conclusions. She makes a strange case, but not necessarily a weak one. She says that the film is about work and peace, and that’s true. The film is about people working, and it is about finding peace. Without the backdrop of Nazi Germany, this would be a fine, yet simplistic, message of a story. However, you cannot separate a film from the time it was made, or any piece of artwork for that matter. Nor can you separate authorial intent, even though her authorial intent seemed to be a creative film. For clarification, I don’t believe what I just said. I think that this whole post brings a lot of messages up about authorial intent, and media criticism in general.


I do not believe that Riefenstahl is responsible for really anything specific that happened in Nazi era Germany. While she encouraged people, Hitler was already in power, so people clearly were already pretty encouraged to follow him. Not only that, but she was an artist making a work in which she was told to. She did the best she could, which was really good. But, again, if she played any role in the Holocaust, she does have some responsibility. At least, I would think she should claim some responsibility. But, she doesn’t do that, so it makes this question harder to answer. I don’t really think that she was responsible for anything specific. But, she, along with thousands of others, are at least somewhat responsible for what happened in the Holocaust. Anybody during that time who did not speak out or try to help is at least somewhat responsible. This does not mean that they are evil, or bad people, or should be necessarily punished. But, they are responsible for something. They may not be responsible for a certain life lost, but they are in part responsible for everything life lost.


I kind of flip flop on the “I like what she has to say” and the “literally this makes no sense” mentalities. She says that her intention was to film this thing for Hitler, make it good, and then finally be rid of working for them. But, she worked for them a few more times, even though I do believe that she originally planned not to. In her story about how angry people were getting at her from inside the Nazi party, I understand why she continued making films even if she previously didn’t want to. I don’t like how dismissive she is about the film’s impact. She actively avoids taking any responsibility for anything. I totally understand why she does this. Having to admit to yourself that you were part of something so horrible would be excruciatingly difficult. But, I think that it’s unfair not to. She talks about having no interest in politics, which is fine. But, that does not excuse continuing to play dumb years and years after the war ended, and everything was made public. There’s no excuse in that department.


Again, I think sort of. An artist should be responsible for their work. However, I’m not sure if they should be responsible for how people receive that work. They are responsible for creating it, but does that mean that they are responsible for how others interpret it? Does it even matter how an artist wants people to interpret their art? I think, somewhat in vein with this question, that it is really sad how Riefenstahl says he hates her work. She acknowledges that it was part of something horrible, and it’s led to many hard times for her, but it’s still a really well made movie. The way she thought about the camera, the editing, the sound, it was all pretty revolutionary. I am sad that she isn’t able to be proud of this. But, how could she be proud, knowing everything that she knows now. I think that she’s sort of an enabler, but not a willing one. The film did encourage people to sympathize with the Nazis, so she enabled the Nazis. But, I don’t think she purposefully did that. I mean she made a film that shows Hitler in an amazing light, but that’s how she, and most of the country felt. So is that really wrong? I don’t think so. The one part where I think she messed up was when she used the Roma and the Sinti during the filming of one of her movies. They were from a concentration camp, and it is really hard for me to believe that she didn’t know something fishy was going on. She had to have known something, but she did nothing. That is for sure being a bystander. That was wrong of her.


I don’t think that Leni should have been punished any more than she already was. Her movie career was basically over by the time the war ended, and that’s a shame. She was a great filmmaker. But, that’s what you get for making a “pact with the devil” (her words). So, I think what happened to her was what happened to her, and that’s the punishment she recieved. I don’t wish any more on her, and I don’t really wish any less. I think it is sad how her life turned out, but stuff happens. People wanted to blame her for things, and it’s not like she wasn’t at all to blame. I don’t believe that she deserved any extra punishment. She made her film, and that’s about it. She lost that career, and I think that that is as close to fair as one could hope for in this situation.


Here’s where things get really interesting for me, because I think about artistic intent and responsibility all the time. Honestly, I’m not sure why I love thinking about it, but I do.


I believe that there is a point to every piece of media ever created. Even if that point is “there is no point”, that’s still a reason. There has to be a reason for something to be made. Whether it to be capture a certain thought process, a certain idea, thought, to fight against something, or just to do it. There’s always a point to it. There’s always some reason for it to exist. That’s why I find it hard when Leni says how she did it because it was her job. She took such great care shooting it and editing it. If she just did it because she had to, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be that well made. I think when she says that the point was work and peace, that’s what the point of it was. She wanted to show work and peace, and what that would mean for Germany, how they would get that. The way she did this was mainly displaying the dichotomy between Hitler, and the common person. She does a phenomenal job in doing so. Like I said earlier, without the backdrop of Nazi Germany, this actually seems to send a good message, and it makes Hitler look absolutely amazing. However, is it possible to separate art from the time period in which it was created? Can art be interpreted as a sole piece, disregarding everything that led to its creation? I really don’t know. All I know is that Leni did a great job in making a compelling movie.


As for the consequences, things stay pretty tricky. What does a consequence mean exactly? If I make a song that says something very explicit about robbing a store, and somebody robs a store in the exact same way, am I at fault? This is sort of like when people blamed Marilyn Manson for Columbine. He never told the shooters to shoot up a school, but people still thought his dark, gory aesthetic was to blame for the what had happened. I will say, this is sort of a weird parallel to draw, but I’m trying here. Is Riefenstahl responsible for how people interpreted her film? How did people interpret her film? Looking at the definition of propaganda, and seeing how she talks about her film, she kind of makes a decent point about why it isn’t. Is it especially biased and misleading? Yes. But, say Riefenstahl had no idea of what were to come, would it still be propaganda? I mean, kind of. But would she not then have been manipulated just like the people who watched her film?


Donald Glover touches upon authorial and artistic intent in one of his interviews for the Han Solo movie. They ask him what This is America “means”. And he responds sort of like, “ I don’t know. It’s not my place to tell you. Figure it out for yourself.” You know. Like there is no right or wrong answer. People interpret it whatever way they want to interpret it. The consumption of media becomes self serving, and it is the artist's job to feed us. I have no concrete answers for whether an artist is responsible. But I don’t really think they are. A true artist’s job is to give us something to consume, and it’s up to us to interpret us. They feed us, and we use what we eat as energy to help us think and act. Artist’s are like chefs, and we are the obnoxious tourists banging on the table asking for more.
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Bakedfacecrepe
Posts: 22

Riefenstahl should hold some responsibility for the profound effect that her film Triumph of the Will had on the thousands of Germans and even foreigners who had seen it. She might not have intended for the outcome to be the way it did, but that doesn’t excuse the role she played in indirectly encouraging German boys and men into joining the Nazi Party. That would be the same as saying that people who use gasoline aren’t responsible for unintentionally polluting the environment. They are responsible in some way, too, just as Riefenstahl was responsible to an extent for her film. The results of one’s actions may not have been what they intended, but the fact remains that the results did occur. Even so, it’s not like Riefenstahl was solely responsible for the large admissions of people into the Nazi Party.


To assess her motives for making the film, it should be noted that according to the memoir she wrote, she was “determined to resist taking on this assignment” when Riefenstahl was told that Hitler sincerely wanted her to make it. She insisted that she didn’t want to make it and reluctantly agreed after much convincing (read: pressuring) on Hitler’s part to get her to do it, so she then decided that if she was going to make a film, she would make it good. Note that in her memoir, she mainly wrote about her concerns for getting the best cameramen and conditions to film, and she spent a long period of time to make it work. She even made enemies of political officials who disagreed with certain parts of her process like what shots to put in. And in The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, she insisted that her film was not a political one, but a work of her art. She seemed to treat her film, not as a means to spread support for Hitler, but as a calculated effort on her part to direct each scene to make them interesting, which may account for the hypnotic effect that many saw in it. She focused on how to make Hitler’s speeches less boring by cutting down 2-hour speeches to 5 minutes with her editing skills. She worked out ways to not bore the audience by having cameramen move while filming so that scenes would be dynamic and have motion. From an artist’s perspective, I can in a way understand what she means. When I saw Triumph of the Wild, I was amazed by her choice in focusing the camera on different parts of Hitler, like the zoom on his face, his hand and the way the camera jumps from person to person when the civil army began to speak. Compared to other documentaries I’ve seen, it was an interesting approach to how she filmed people and what she chooses to portray.


Another thing I thought about was how in the documentary about Riefenstahl, she defended her stance on the film by continuously saying it was not supposed to be political. And she mentioned that there was a message to be seen in her film, where, as she was editing, she saw the ideas of work and peace. It had ideas of promoting stability and peace, unification of the people and working for a singular goal. The film, from the few clips we’ve seen in class, does lack any images or scenes from the battlefield and from the concentration camps where horrific practices occurred at the time. The film mainly shows scenes of Hitler’s powerful speeches, the ecstatic and joyous expressions of the people and the “positive” community built around Hitler. Riefenstahl said that her film lacked political bias and wasn’t made to harm people, but I argue that it did the opposite. It glorified the Nazi Party by presenting their ideals of economic stability and equality by breaking down classes, but what the Nazi Party did to those they detained and harmed can’t be excused because of their ideology. What one’s work originally means versus how it is interpreted can cause the original meaning to be overshadowed no matter the time period. “Art is in the eye of the beholder,” as they say. With this in mind, I say Riefenstahl was an enabler and a bystander who just so happened to create a negative effect in the long run. However, she also refused to take responsibility for what her work has done and denies her relations to the Nazi Party. While I believe she isn’t directly affiliated in the sense that she supported Hitler’s destructive actions, she can’t deny the connections that people are making her to the party.


Riefenstahl stated that if she knew the outcome that her film would bring, namely the backlash, she would not have made it. It’s true as she says that no one knows the future that their work would bring, but I wonder a little more about that. Was she saying she wouldn’t make the film if she knew that it would encourage people to join a problematic cause, or was she saying she wouldn’t have made it if she knew she would get hate?


Riefenstahl definitely should have been punished in some way, not in a harsh sentence, but the destruction of her career was probably suitable, despite how terrible it seemed her life had been. After the film was criticized, Riefenstahl had a hard time finding funding for her films; she was refused by many and unwelcomed in many parts of the world. The article in the database also focused on her downfall as her legacy was built on the hate she garnered and the label she had been slapped with as a Nazi sympathizer. I’ve been split on whether it was right for people to publicly shame her because it left her life difficult to manage, but she did make a profound effect with her art. Riefenstahl was responsible for making the film the way she did, but she could not predict how the audience would interpret it and she even agonized on its reception.


To sum up my post, an artist should bear some responsibility for the work they produce, whether it’s just to express something or it’s a commission for another party. The fact that the artist has a hand in producing the work and especially so in this case where Riefenstahl did with Hitler’s approval should indicate that she isn’t completely blameless for what it brought. While it’s important to consider the artist’s meaning and interpretation of their work, the interpretations of the audience and their reactions to it can spark love or hate for it. Of course, this would happen outside of the artist’s control, but some level of responsibility should be held by the artist for at the very least in its creation.


Miss Day’s Question:

In recent years there have been instances of creators losing control of their artwork (Such as how Pepe the frog was used by hate groups). Is that still the fault of the artist? how can that be rectified?


I think this is an important question for you to bring up because as a society and a part of our culture, we are very quick to pin the blame of images and words on someone, whether the blame is true or not. In fact, while I knew of Pepe the frog as a meme, I never knew it was being used as a hate symbol, and while briefly looking into it, I was shocked how an image used as a joke would escalate into hate. I’m not sure if Pepe’s creator was blamed for the hate symbol, but from what I can tell, he doesn’t take to Pepe being used in such a way kindly and even worked to “kill off” Pepe from the hate symbolism. Either way, while the creator made and owns Pepe in a way, I don’t think he’s really responsible for its high spread use as a hate symbol, especially with how many people on the internet use Pepe as a meme and joke. Once something is on the internet or spread out in any media for that matter, it becomes difficult to control. So while rectification won’t be the full solution, I think a good step that Pepe’s creator has taken is his express alienation from the hate group and his decision to kill Pepe the symbol. It’s probably important to not only make clear your standing on the matter and work to counter it.


My question for everyone is: Do the audience, those who look at and interpret the works of an artist, hold responsibility for their actions? If Germans joined the Nazi Party because of the film, wouldn’t they be liable for their decision to find appeal in it?

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Mulan23
Posts: 17

Riefenstahl's Impact

I think that Riefenstahl is somewhat responsible for what happened during the Nazi era. Many people who joined the Nazi party did so after seeing her film and without it, the Nazi party would not have had some many members or so much power in Germany. I think Riefenstahl is an enabler. Although she (supposedly) never was part of the party or supported their views, it would’ve been a lot harder for the Nazis to accomplish anything if they did not have a large following.


I believe that she didn’t set out with the intention to make the film political, but that it was a chance to make something artistic. But if something is about politics, whether it’s a political leader or a political party, it’s very hard not to make it political. Sure, what she filmed actually happened and nothing was scripted, but it definitely left out much of the narrative. In The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, Leni says that her film didn’t have as many Nazi symbols as other films out there and only spoke of peace and unity so she didn’t believe it was dangerous. I think that artists are always thinking about the impact that their creation is going to have on people. Because she didn’t outright film things and publish them unedited, there’s a reason she did or didn’t include each frame or scene. There’s a certain impact she wanted to achieve with her film. Everything was deliberate. At some point she had to have realized that her film was sending out a message that was different from what Hitler and the Nazi party stood for. Riefenstahl should be held responsible for the what the films contains because of the effect it had on countless different people. I think that the best way to start to make up for what she did was to actually make an unbiased documentary of what the Nazis did that was exactly what she didn't want Triumph of the Will to be, a “newsreel” as she put it.If an artist negatively impacts people because of their work, whether it was intentional or because they didn’t think of the consequences, they should be held responsible.


In response to 617capecod5’s question: “What would you have done in Leni Riefenstahl’s position, when Hitler asks you to make a film of/for him?” Well, if I was a creative artist and/or Hitler didn’t think I was a disgrace to humanity, I think it would depend a lot on what I would have known about Hitler or the Nazi party at the time. If I had read Mein Kampf, I definitely would have tried to do anything in my power not to make a film for him.


My question is: Do you think that countries, such as France, that praised Leni’s work realized the impact that it had or would have on the German people? If so, why did they continue to praise her work?

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Orange Juice
Posts: 23

Leni Riefenstahl

Triumph of the Will was definitely hypnotic. From the smiling young boys to the delicious food displayed at the labor camps, life seemed happy under the rule of Hitler. The images of young boys enjoying themselves at these camps appealed and targeted other young kids to join as well. This is propaganda at its height, and Leni Riefenstahl should take responsibility for it.


Leni Riefenstahl was an enabler. She herself agreed to making this propaganda film for Hitler, and not only that, but she was even proud of her work, as mentioned in The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl. This film was watched by millions and was a massive contributor to the growth in the Nazi part popularity. Hitler wouldn't have been stopped if she has not made the film, but it certainly helped him gain support from the people. For this reason alone, she should be held responsible, not for the Holocaust but for a big part of the growth of the Nazi party. It is understandable that she might not have known the extent of Hitler's plan, as many at the time had no clue, but anyone who have read his book would sense that there is an underlying evil. Although she should be held responsible for some things, the harshest punishment I could think of would be jail sentence. Art is subjective, which makes it hard to give Riefenstahl a punishment for her creation. This brings me to the question:

Should art be restricted? To what extent should we regulate the production of certain art forms (in this case, film), if at all?


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Orange Juice
Posts: 23

Originally posted by Mulan23 on February 10, 2019 21:26

I think that Riefenstahl is somewhat responsible for what happened during the Nazi era. Many people who joined the Nazi party did so after seeing her film and without it, the Nazi party would not have had some many members or so much power in Germany. I think Riefenstahl is an enabler. Although she (supposedly) never was part of the party or supported their views, it would’ve been a lot harder for the Nazis to accomplish anything if they did not have a large following.


I believe that she didn’t set out with the intention to make the film political, but that it was a chance to make something artistic. But if something is about politics, whether it’s a political leader or a political party, it’s very hard not to make it political. Sure, what she filmed actually happened and nothing was scripted, but it definitely left out much of the narrative. In The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, Leni says that her film didn’t have as many Nazi symbols as other films out there and only spoke of peace and unity so she didn’t believe it was dangerous. I think that artists are always thinking about the impact that their creation is going to have on people. Because she didn’t outright film things and publish them unedited, there’s a reason she did or didn’t include each frame or scene. There’s a certain impact she wanted to achieve with her film. Everything was deliberate. At some point she had to have realized that her film was sending out a message that was different from what Hitler and the Nazi party stood for. Riefenstahl should be held responsible for the what the films contains because of the effect it had on countless different people. I think that the best way to start to make up for what she did was to actually make an unbiased documentary of what the Nazis did that was exactly what she didn't want Triumph of the Will to be, a “newsreel” as she put it.If an artist negatively impacts people because of their work, whether it was intentional or because they didn’t think of the consequences, they should be held responsible.


In response to 617capecod5’s question: “What would you have done in Leni Riefenstahl’s position, when Hitler asks you to make a film of/for him?” Well, if I was a creative artist and/or Hitler didn’t think I was a disgrace to humanity, I think it would depend a lot on what I would have known about Hitler or the Nazi party at the time. If I had read Mein Kampf, I definitely would have tried to do anything in my power not to make a film for him.


My question is: Do you think that countries, such as France, that praised Leni’s work realized the impact that it had or would have on the German people? If so, why did they continue to praise her work?

I don't think France realized the impact of Leni's production because as you have suggested, it was artistic. If they had realized the propaganda behind it, they would have opposed the film, since they were not on friendly terms with Germany.

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Spaceman
Posts: 32

Originally posted by Bakedfacecrepe on February 10, 2019 21:20



My question for everyone is: Do the audience, those who look at and interpret the works of an artist, hold responsibility for their actions? If Germans joined the Nazi Party because of the film, wouldn’t they be liable for their decision to find appeal in it?

I think this is an interesting question, because it kind of flips the original on it's head. As I talked about in my post, I sort of only believe that the audience has responsibility for their actions. It doesn't matter if something swayed you in a particular manner, you choose to act the way you did. The fact that Riefenstahl made a piece of propaganda does not excuse anyone who joined the Nazi party, because they chose to do that. Her movie did not force anyone to do anything. At most, it encouraged some people. I think that wondering if an artist is responsible for how their audience reacting is a cop out. Art and media are not individual things. When something is created, it is then consumed. The relationship between this is what makes it important. All of life relies on communication, and this is the communication that makes art interesting. Truly appreciating any type of media calls for a give and take of ideas from yourself to that piece of media. It is not Lina's fault that somebody joined the Nazi party after watching her film. She presents something, and they interpret it in a way that makes them do that. Her intent is important, but practically impossible to understand because we don't know what the truth is.

In short. thinking that it is solely Lina's fault is a cop out, because there are at least two individuals involved in the consumption of art.

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Wintertime
Posts: 15

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

I think that no matter what a film that she made so long ago doesn’t matter anymore but if she has not taken responsibility and realized that she did in fact make a propaganda video for a terrible man and a political party that killed millions of people then that is her own fault. She has knowingly convinced many kids to join nazi youth camps through her film involving videos of them “having fun”. The movie took advantage of the german people and convinced many to join the nazi party. Even though Hitler did push her to make the movie she is her own person and she should be able to make the moral choice not to make a propaganda video. I don’t think that she should be punished for making this film but it should be known by everyone that it is not ok. Although it is something she made and she decided that it would be made. If someone was making music they would take the blame if it put out a bad message so why not her? As we know this movie wasn’t the cause of the holocaust or the nazi party coming into power but I think that it did give a lighter and more likeable view to the nazi party than is true. It is used as a tool to manipulate people and that is something we see a lot from Hitler. From her autobiography I can see how she might be afraid not to make the movie or even not want to disappoint a man like hitler. She said at one part how he said almost like an order that she will be making this movie and there you see another time hitler manipulated people. I think that Leni is an enabler, I don't think she has done something wrong enough to be called a perpetrator but she definitely isn’t a bystander seeing that she made the final decision of making this movie. I mean if she had made a worse movie that didn’t inspire people to join but her intention was to make a piece of propaganda would she be punished as harshly. If an artist willingly makes a piece of art knowing that it will cause pain in some form they should be punished but if they are just expressing themselves they shouldn’t have to worry. In conclusion I think that Leni is guilty of making propaganda but as long as she owned up to it and her being punished won’t change what happened or make it better for anyone then why punish her?

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Rainier
Posts: 18

The Case of Leni Riefenstahl

This goes to show how powerful art can be and the influence it has on others. Whether Leni Riefenstahl purposefully chose this or not, her film made her an enabler. It seems as though she did not want to do the film but rather only did it for the art form. But in doing so, she supported the dangerous views of the Nazi party. She helped expand the Nazi party and made it and Hitler seem more appealing. This was the creation of one of the greatest pieces of propaganda in history and the creation comes from the creator, Leni. Whether or not she agreed with its effects, she has the responsibility of having provided a platform for such hateful thoughts. While she was not responsible for the entirety of the Holocaust, she was a factor in its expansion. Maybe without her video, fewer people would’ve supported the actions of the Nazi party, we can never know.

She argues many times that she did not create the film for a political purpose but rather an artistic purpose. Although, like many Germans at the time, I don’t think that she was opposed to the Nazi party either. If she was, she would’ve spoken out or refused to make the film. I think the message of the Nazi party was very appealing for many people. Riefenstahl states that she liked the idea of peace and the film is about work and peace. She, like many other people, was a woman who was untroubled by others and because of that, she was content in her own world. This is why she really didn’t care about the politics behind it. It’s like people who say, “I don’t pay attention to politics, it’s too confusing” or “it doesn’t affect me”. I think if she took the time to be more aware and less ignorant, maybe she would’ve seen and been aware of the impact of both her film and the Nazi Party as a whole.

Riefenstahl should take responsibility for what her film did because as an artist, she must take control of what messages one’s art is sending. It was ignorant of her to simply produce it without thought of what it could do. Another thing is that I doubt that she had no idea of what was going on. She also didn’t stop anything when it was released and when she saw the effects, even a while after its release. If she just allowed herself to be less ignorant, this could all be a different story. I don’t think that she should be punished through something like jail but someone mentioned it earlier, the effects that making that film had on her are consequence enough.

An artist should not be held responsible for the interpretations that others may have of their art but Leni’s case is different. She knew that she was making this film for Hitler and the Nazi party. She knew it was an act of propaganda so in this case, she should be held responsible for its consequences.

Now, to answer OrangeJuice’s question “Should art be restricted? To what extent should we regulate the production of certain art forms (in this case, film), if at all?”. The answer is no, art should not be restricted. I think to restrict art would be a blatant act of censorship and that cages in ideas and expressions of human being. Whether or not you agree with the message of the art, it is not someone else’s place to dictate which forms of expression should be allowed. That would limit the flow of ideas and keep us trapped. My question is, Riefenstahl's’ film provided us with lots of footage and information about the Nazis, it also gave way to a new style of filmmaking. With this in mind, if given the opportunity, would you have this film and it’s effects removed from history?

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zenitspb25
Posts: 25

A Triumph of the Will

While Triumph of the Will was very inspiring for many, Leni Riefenstahl should only bear the consequence of bringing the NSDAP into further power, but not directly the Holocaust. Riefenstahl was apolitical, so she would not have known deeply about the Nazi's plan for Jews and other "Untermenschen". The film was also released in 1934, well before Kristallnacht. However, since many people were moved by the film and joined the Nazi party by extension, the film furthered the Nazis resolve and grip on Germany. The Nazis, seeing all these people flocking to their party, would see that they had the backing of the people and could carry out atrocities in the name of the People. Riefenstahl is responsible for why the Nazis became so potent, but not the acts that they did afterward.

Riefenstahl's motive was fair, that the Fuehrer had demanded it and she had little chance of rejecting a leader. What would happen to her if she turned down the head of state, especially after he strongly insisted upon it and would have given her everything to work with? She also stated in her memoir that it felt like a threat or an order issued to her by the Nazi Party. She could've also fell under Hitler's spell, like many supposedly had during the Nazis' rise, and she might still was when she last met him, as noted in the article, that "he still cast the same magical spell as before. "On the other hand, I don't think she is particularly genuine about her response to what occurred under the Nazi regime. Despite her claims of apoliticality, she did congratulate Hitler on conquering France. Her justification fo the comment, to me, is not a justifiable. She knew that if the Nazi had the capacity to destroy France in matters of weeks, they will easily enact their social goals of eradicating Jews and other undesirable groups. She was definitely aware of the effects of the film, even if, as said in her memoir, she at first was very tired out by making the film, since Hitler's reaction to its first showing was massive. Her defense of her making the film seems more like a defense of her ego and her image, since she keeps on insisting that she was not involved with the state apparatus and she was apolitical, despite the fact that her greatest work was funded and made possible by the Nazi Party.

Despite being pressured by Hitler, I would say Riefenstahl is still an enabler. She enabled the Nazi Party to be in a position where they can commit mass murders, extrajudicial assassinations, and heavy censorships, without repercussions. She enabled the Nazi Party to be in a position where they can launch the Holocaust. Riefenstahl is responsible for the content of the film and its effect. She even said that she edited many parts and hired the crews personally, so it is partly a product of her own making in other than directing. As said before, many were moved to join the Nazi Party due to this film, and there was a sort of chain reaction due to the popularity of the Nazi Party.

I think in this instance, there is no real punishment. How do you punish an artist? She didn't directly commit the horrors the Nazis inflicted, so prison sentence is no good. She wasn't involved with the state apparatus either, so monetary fine is weak. I think what happened to her postwar is a fair enough punishment for an artist. She was boycotted and didn't have the opportunity to make anymore films. She had thrived under the Nazis, so she wouldn't be able to in a non-totalitarian country. The worst thing that could happen to an artist would be to have their works rejected and ignored, and that was what essentially happened to her, in the film field at least. She shouldn't have been able to reinvent herself, because she was still, albeit very indirectly, a war enabler.

I believe that the artist is responsible for their art, but only their intended meaning and interpretation of it, not someone else's. It is easy to twist words and art, so it is also important that the artist emphasises their own meaning, and not let other interpretations of it. It is still the artist's duty to not let the consequences of the art go the way they don't want it to go, so I think they are still responsible for it.

Responding to Rainier's question, "if given the opportunity, would you have this film and it’s effects removed from history?", I would say that I would only remove the effects. The film is still monumental, with many achievements in film techniques. However, what occurred due to the movie is tragic, so it's the only part I would remove. The film should still be preserved, but not distributed for regular viewing, but rather academic and be studied, in order to have a greater understanding of Nazi Germany. Seeing how miserable she was in her postwar years, my question is, does Leni Riefenstahl deserve any sympathy, and why (or why not)?

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LD75019
Posts: 29

Leni Riefenstahl

Undeniably, Riefenstahl holds responsibility for what was presented in the her the Triumph of the Will She maintains within her interviews that she had no way of knowing what would have unfolded, and what the true intentions of the Nazi party were, however despite not knowing their intentions is really no excuse to not take responsibility for the film’s impacts. Riefenstahl vehemently denies having any indication of the horrors of the Holocaust although 1933 and 1934 were riddled with laws banning Jews from doing anything from being represented in media to their mobility on a social, political, and economic level. Because she was the director of the film, which meant she had control on everything that came across the screen, she portrayed a glorified image of the Nazi party and as she mentioned in her autobiography: she stayed true to Hitler’s vision. The film is without a doubt propaganda. Many Nazis cited the film as the reason they joined the party so it is without a doubt propaganda. It is unfair for her to deny that she is at fault and say that artists do not concern themselves with politics when she made an incredibly political piece disguised as art. I feel that even though she made a piece of art that, simply because it concerned itself with a political party, it make things political because it shows affiliation, support.


As a result, Riefenstahl is absolutely an enabler. The Nazis were the perpetrators in this situation, but Riefenstahl was not a bystander because she actively took actions that helped the Nazi image which ultimately helped spread the beliefs. Her film allowed them to thrive.


Should Leni Riefenstahl be punished? I don’t think so. In the documentary on her life, it is said that she became isolated by society, her work was no longer displayed, and many would not hire her because of her association with the Nazis. I think that this is the worst kind of punishment for someone who just wants to create art, as Riefenstahl claims. Lack of recognition or to not be acknowledged on social level must already be difficult, but also in a field where you hope to thrive and flourish is the worst kind of punishment. I think to even put her in prison wouldn’t be very justified, her “crimes” don’t amount to that much.


Artists do have responsibility for their work. If they are choosing to put a piece of art into the world that holds some political commentary or a statement that will provoke a reaction, then they are inciting feelings even if they don’t intend to. Like I said earlier: to even concern your work with a political party makes things political because it shows that you in some way affiliate yourself in this party or support them enough to contribute something to them. Riefenstahl goes into great detail, including how she hand-pasted the film herself and struggled to find people able to keep up with her and it is almost unthinkable that she would not have considered what would happen considering her meticulous nature to have control over everything. That all being said, artists shouldn’t be the ones held accountable if another individual views their work then chooses to do something drastic, like commit an act of violence or to intentionally skew for their own gain. A piece can inspire others without telling them to incite violence unless someone else says different. The artist just needs to be willing to admit that they played a roll, which Riefenstahl consistently expressed that she did not.


I want to pose the question: looking back on the film, was there any moment in particular that got to you or stood out to you more than others? Were you particularly convinced by the film’s vision of the Nazi Party?

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LD75019
Posts: 29

Originally posted by Shelly on February 10, 2019 15:35

Hi all,


Leni Riefenstahl was a really interesting person. She created the one of the most powerful pieces of propaganda of all time. After she made it, she regretted it, and had been criticized by society ever since. It is strange to me because she both prides herself on her work and also hates herself for making it. I wonder if other people feel the same way about their work, or if she is just a special case.


It is very clear that this was a hypnotic, convincing piece of propaganda. When making this, Riefenstahl was very strategic and knew what she was doing. She glorified the Nazi party and turned it into a more palpable substance for everyday people to see and accept into their daily life. She made sure to make it appealing everyone by including things ranging from camp Nazi to smiling children in their mothers’ arms to happy, handsome men smiling as they salute a equally happy looking Hitler. People watching this while poor, starving, and unhappy were then believing that the Nazis were going to bring them the food, wealth and happiness that they need. Riefenstahl should be blamed for things like the increase of members in the Nazi party. She made a film that made people want to be Nazis. It's very simple. The harder part is if she should be blamed for the holocaust. I think she should not. This is because there were many factors that led up to the holocaust, and to blame her for all of the factors is simply not possible. All she did was increase the number of Nazis in the world. To blame her for the anger of those in Wiemar Germany is wrong. To blame her for all of the anti-Semitic feelings in the world is untrue. And last, to blame her for Hitler being who he was is just unreasonable. It is impossible to blame one person for everything that happened, so that is why she should not really take the blame for the holocaust.



I did not like what she said about her motives and awareness of what happened as a result. This is because she pushed any bit of blame away from herself and on to others. Through the part of the film we watched, she says repeatedly “I don't care”, “so and so told me to do this”, and “I’m just a filmmaker, this could have been on politics or fruit and I would have made this”. All of these things show deflective behavior, and she manages to get away her not being at fault for anything that this film has done. Riefenstahl should really own up to her actions. She knew that she was making a propaganda film for the Nazis, and that’s all this boils down to. She intentionally made it into a work of art, and was proud of it. She only stopped being proud of it after the war when people began calling her out for working for the Nazis. She avoids taking the blame for this because she does not want to further destroy whatever is left of her film career. Her saying that she “doesn’t understand politics” is just a cheap excuse, and not even a good one. In order to set a good example of how to move forward from a tragedy like this, she should take some blame and face what she has done.


Riefenstahl was definitely an enabler. This is because her film helped add thousands of people to the Nazi party. She made being a Nazi sound so great that it convinced people that Hitler was going to be their savior. Not any average person is able to do this, yet Riefenstahl was capable of it. She used 150,000 dollars, and great manipulation skills to do this. This movie was not an accident, and that is why she is called an enabler. As for her being held responsible, she was never punished officially. Despite this, she still suffered. Riefenstahl never made another movie, was criticised constantly for making it, and last, she lived a life full of misery and guilt. To me, that is a good enough punishment. No prison would be able to the things that society did to her. I feel like this was the right type of punishment for Leni.


I feel like as soon as an artist calls a work their own, they are responsible for it. This means that since Riefenstahl very much indeed called this her own, felt proud of it, and even accepted awards for it, she should be responsible for the backlash that it receives too. She made this film knowing that the Nazi party was a controversial group back then. She knew that they were responsible for killing millions, and she knew that with any piece of art made comes backlash. Because of this, she knew what she was getting herself into. I feel that this philosophy can be used today too. For example, many comedians say racist, homophobic, sexist, or just downright bad things. They know what they are doing, and as a result when they have their shows cancelled, they should not be blaming anybody other than themselves.


My question is should people today be held to the same standard regarding their actions as Leni Riefenstahl was?


Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment!

Shelly

I feel that now, people should held to the standard that whatever they say or make, they need to take responsibility for what they did. In the case of Leni Riefenstahl, she says her intentions were not in line with Hitler's and she says that she doesn't think she played a role. Why? She made a film for the Nazi Party which she regrets, but denies any responsibility for the film's impacts even though it is so clear that the film was successful in its mission. And who created it? Leni Riefenstahl, regardless of whether she was going for an "artisic" angle.

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Boston18
Posts: 28

Is a film considered dangerous, and who bears responsibility for the consequences?

First, I must address a common misconception about documentaries. This piece on Hitler and the Nazi party is commonly referred to as both a work of propaganda and a venerable documentary. Because of the notion we have from most documentaries today, we generally fin it strange that a film can be considered both, but just because a movie is a documentary doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily dry and simply a retelling of an event. A documentary is an accurate commentary or revision of a historical or ongoing event/movement/phenomenon that is informative in nature. It is entirely fact based. Just because in this Hitler documentary we see masses of people cheerfully parading him doesn’t mean it can’t be a documentary, as this truly happened in history, and at the same time, the same film may have a struck a chord with the audiences, and inspired them to subscribe to the Nazi party. Depending on who the audience is, the presentation of the facts or the way that an event is documented, although rooted in the facts, can still be extremely persuasive, and carry with it an ulterior motive.


That said, the repetitive scenes of Hitler leading on masses of cheering Nazi supporters, happy women clapping for him, young boys and men abiding by his service regimen, the Nazi “summer camp”, and grandiose receptions do display Hitler in a certain light. In argumentative literature, this persuasive method is called “bandwagon”, where you convince people that the overall common thought and belief is as so, prompting another individual to want to follow. A child watching the fool play and crazy fun of the Nazi boys in the summer camp may be inspired to join. A family viewing many other families at Nazi parades may be prompted to go out and support as well. A young man with friends in the civil service squad might see Hitler’s “moving speech” about bread and equality, and may be prompted to want to participate. People generally want to be a part of something greater than themselves, and to them, this was the epitome of that. They believed that the Nazi party worked for the greater good, and wanted to contribute to that. Sure, it was a documentary, but it was also a brainwashing.


None of this is a hypothetical. In class, we learned that participation in the Nazi party soared after the first showings of this film, and continued to increase as the film was shown more and more throughout the years. Considering this, then the director and producer of the film, Riefenstahl, is partly responsible for the events carried out by the Nazi party during the Holocaust. Now, whether or not she should be responsible, or rather if the Holocaust is something that she foresaw and intentionally contributed to, is still in question. If she read Mein Kampf, and if she knew Hitler so well that she had an idea of what hid racist radical views were, then yes, she should be considered responsible. However, if this was just another project for her, and a favor for an acquaintance, then she shouldn’t be deemed entirely responsible. Whether or not Leni should be punished depends on whether she demonstrated that she was aware of Hitler’s values, and still decided to aid in his cause. If so, then the punishment should be severe. She will have contributed to the deaths of millions of people. Art can be moving, and accordingly, art can be dangerous. Anything that has the power to drastically change somebody’s perspective is a weapon.


Here is my question: Commentaries like Leni’s have been the driving force behind many political movements in history, whether for or against. How different would the world look today of these artists never contributed to or against politics?




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Boston18
Posts: 28

Originally posted by LD75019 on February 11, 2019 05:10

Undeniably, Riefenstahl holds responsibility for what was presented in the her the Triumph of the Will She maintains within her interviews that she had no way of knowing what would have unfolded, and what the true intentions of the Nazi party were, however despite not knowing their intentions is really no excuse to not take responsibility for the film’s impacts. Riefenstahl vehemently denies having any indication of the horrors of the Holocaust although 1933 and 1934 were riddled with laws banning Jews from doing anything from being represented in media to their mobility on a social, political, and economic level. Because she was the director of the film, which meant she had control on everything that came across the screen, she portrayed a glorified image of the Nazi party and as she mentioned in her autobiography: she stayed true to Hitler’s vision. The film is without a doubt propaganda. Many Nazis cited the film as the reason they joined the party so it is without a doubt propaganda. It is unfair for her to deny that she is at fault and say that artists do not concern themselves with politics when she made an incredibly political piece disguised as art. I feel that even though she made a piece of art that, simply because it concerned itself with a political party, it make things political because it shows affiliation, support.


As a result, Riefenstahl is absolutely an enabler. The Nazis were the perpetrators in this situation, but Riefenstahl was not a bystander because she actively took actions that helped the Nazi image which ultimately helped spread the beliefs. Her film allowed them to thrive.


Should Leni Riefenstahl be punished? I don’t think so. In the documentary on her life, it is said that she became isolated by society, her work was no longer displayed, and many would not hire her because of her association with the Nazis. I think that this is the worst kind of punishment for someone who just wants to create art, as Riefenstahl claims. Lack of recognition or to not be acknowledged on social level must already be difficult, but also in a field where you hope to thrive and flourish is the worst kind of punishment. I think to even put her in prison wouldn’t be very justified, her “crimes” don’t amount to that much.


Artists do have responsibility for their work. If they are choosing to put a piece of art into the world that holds some political commentary or a statement that will provoke a reaction, then they are inciting feelings even if they don’t intend to. Like I said earlier: to even concern your work with a political party makes things political because it shows that you in some way affiliate yourself in this party or support them enough to contribute something to them. Riefenstahl goes into great detail, including how she hand-pasted the film herself and struggled to find people able to keep up with her and it is almost unthinkable that she would not have considered what would happen considering her meticulous nature to have control over everything. That all being said, artists shouldn’t be the ones held accountable if another individual views their work then chooses to do something drastic, like commit an act of violence or to intentionally skew for their own gain. A piece can inspire others without telling them to incite violence unless someone else says different. The artist just needs to be willing to admit that they played a roll, which Riefenstahl consistently expressed that she did not.


I want to pose the question: looking back on the film, was there any moment in particular that got to you or stood out to you more than others? Were you particularly convinced by the film’s vision of the Nazi Party? I want to pose the question: looking back on the film, was there any moment in particular that got to you or stood out to you more than others? Were you particularly convinced by the film’s vision of the Nazi Party?

Quote and Reply

"I want to pose the question: looking back on the film, was there any moment in particular that got to you or stood out to you more than others? Were you particularly convinced by the film’s vision of the Nazi Party?" Thinking back, the moment in the film which stood out to me most was the pep rally Hitler lead for the civil service troops. In his speech, he claimed that they were the next generation, and had to value social equality and anti-hierarchy. Additionally, he claimed that they will provide Germans with what they need: land and bread. From my knowledge from AP World History, I can confidently tell you that these are very communist themes. The thing is, the Nazis were not a communist party. In fact, they despised communists, or at least claimed to. I found it interesting that hundreds of thousands to millions of people continued to support a party which clearly had no idea where there values lay on the political spectrum, and a party which illogically contridicted itself so many times.


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MichaelAfton
Posts: 28

I believe Riefenstahl has very little responsibility for what happened during the Nazi era and the Holocaust because regardless of her film, people would still join the Nazi party. I do, however, believe she had a form of impact on some of the people who joined, though, because her documentary painted the Nazi camps for boys in a positive light which encouraged them to sign up for these camps. I can’t say if all the boys who signed up wouldn’t have if they never saw the film, but I believe a sizeable amount did join mainly because of it. That being said, however, my initial claim that she has very little responsibility still stands because proportionally, I don’t believe she swayed enough people to make a difference, positive or negative.

Personally, I believe that her main goal was to make an excellent film rather than a propaganda piece. Time and time again she tried to back out of making the film all together not because of the politics involved, but rather because of her belief that she was incapable of making this kind of film. If she truly had the main goal of making a propaganda piece, I don’t believe she would try to stop production since whatever she would have produced would have some sort of effect.

I believe Riefenstahl is an enabler because she produced a film that would go on to influence many Germans to join the Nazis. She didn’t actively try to do this, but no one can deny that she did have an influence on the Germans that did join the Nazis. I believe enabler fits better than bystander or perpetrator because she created the film without the intent to be propaganda, but at the end of the day it still did enable many Germans to cross the line from on the fence about joining the Nazis to actually joining the Nazis.

Even though she did have responsibility, I don’t think she should face punishment for it because she already faced “punishment” with the loss of her movie making career. After making this and other films, she lost her ability to direct as no one would hire her because of her connections to the Nazi party. I know she helped Hitler and made many Germans join the Nazi party which strengthened it, but I don’t believe she had the malicious intent like other members of the Nazi party. She was forced to make the film by Hitler, and denying it would have most likely led to jail time or death since it was a command by the Führer.

An artist has responsibility for their work and the reaction it provokes if the reaction is what they intended it to be. That isn’t an easy thing to prove, but if people start getting punished for the reaction their art provokes it could set a dangerous precedent for the future. A leader could punish an artist who made an art piece that caused people to dislike the leader (even if the artist didn’t mean to) and cite the punishment of another artist as a justification. This of course is a hypothetical, but the hypothetical itself is a possible one since on the opposite side of the spectrum would be an art piece that accidentally influenced people to like the leader and join the party, similar to Riefenstahl. They’re two sides of the same coin. That being said, I do believe the artist should own up to the reaction that it created and be able to see how it could have that reaction since their art is what caused it to happen. At the end of the day, the artist’s work is theirs and is an extension of themselves, so they do have some form of responsibility to at least own up to anything that could have occurred as a result of it and a moral responsibility to fix it.

My question is this: How far is too far? How much influence can an artist accidentally create before a punishment has to be administered? Is there a situation where the artist has to be punished for their work?

Responding to Boston18’s question (“Commentaries like Leni’s have been the driving force behind many political movements in history, whether for or against. How different would the world look today [if] these artists never contributed to or against politics?”), I believe the impact would be substantial since it wouldn’t have a chance to make anyone feel anything. The world would be more bland as a result, and influencing any group of people would heavily rely on the charisma of the leader rather than visual propaganda. Relying on the charisma of the leader or any person is a lot harder since art and visual propaganda allowed the message to remain for a longer time if it was posted anywhere, whereas the leader’s speeches would only be heard if people were listening at the moment he or she gave it. If no one is listening, there’s going to be no impact. But with art, people may catch a glimpse of it if it’s in a museum or if it’s a poster on a wall and they may become intrigued to look into it further. It’s a lot easier to spread a message with a visual rather than a one time speech (in my eyes) because the visual lasts longer and doesn’t require anyone to listen (unless it’s a movie or something) or read (unless it’s a book, the picture has words, etc.), just to look at the picture.

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C1152GS
Posts: 24

Freedom of expression?

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?

Leni Riefenstahl is responsible for creating a film that young boys watched which swayed them into signing up for the Nazi Party. Her film did not explicitly contain words that said join the party, so she does not bear any responsibility for the orchestrated and meticulous killing of millions of people.

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?

I think she should’ve owned up to the fact that her film did compel people to join the party. I don't like the fact that she wants to completely separate herself from the politics of it all. She also could not have created a positive film to the extent she did. I honestly think Leni created this movie for the aesthetics because her camera placement was so well thought out. She was not an investigative journalist, so I don’t think she should be blamed for not portraying the platform for what it is. Like many, she was misinformed and probably did not read Mein Kampf.

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?”

By Isaac’s definition, Leni is an enabler. She created a film that portrayed the Nazi Party and Hitler in a positive light. Her film was cited as the main reason for joining the Nazi party, therefore she helps people get them to the first step before the orchestrated killings.

MIf Leni bears some responsibility, should she have been punished? If yes, then what sort of punishment? If not, then why not?

I don’t think she should be punished. I think the shunning of her career after the Holocaust was fair. Leni did not tell people to join nor did she push racist and anti-semitic ideas on them. The Weimar Republic had those sentiments for many years, Hitler manipulated it to achieve his end goal, Leni did 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?

I think art is subjective just like when we analyze a book it might differ from the author's intention or someone else because we come up with our meaning based on the experiences we've had. People have free will and freedom of thought, so saying a work swayed one to do something is dangerous. It eases the gravity of the action of the young boys who decided to join the Nazi party because we can blame their conscription on an outside force. I think an artist should talk about the reaction his/her work creates if it is used as the basis to hurt others, but if the artist intention was not for their work to be manipulated in such way they should not face any consequences for it.

To answer MichaelAfton's question, I think if an artist's work explicitly tries to elicit a certain reaction the artist in question should be punished. I think the artist's work should be well examined before they face consequences for it.

My question is: Should artists self-censor their work to mitigate adverse reactions or will that stifle creativity?

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