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blansky
09-10-2006, 11:20 AM
One other point.

I believe that the rise of fascism, was in part due to a response to the bogeyman of the day, namely communism.

What the German population may have seen in all those uniforms and parades etc was possibly a response to the imagined or real threat that communism presented.

One of the reasons that many prominent Americans were on board with the early Hitler machine was the fear that communism/socialism was building up steam here in America and in Europe.

MIchael

Helen B
09-10-2006, 11:41 AM
I've only seen snatches of her film, and only as a child. I'd like to see it again, and see all of it, so I can make an informed opinion.

I remember being struck by it - any fascistic overtones would have passed me by - and I know that the beauty of it, the way she used viewpoint and light, was probably one of the first influences on me with regard to photography, and a love of film.

I feel it's important to remember also that those elements within the film - celebration of the power of the body, celebration of the athlete, weren't in themselves fascistic, - (neither was the importance of the agricultural worker) - ...

The nice bits.

...but what about the portrayal of Hitler as a messiah? His celestial origin? The discussion of the Reichsmordwoche (Night of the Long Knives) - but maybe the murder of his political rivals was OK because it was 'of its time', as was the threat to those who dissented in the future? (one of the messages in the film) Or maybe Riefenstahl was so politically naive that she thought that murder was an acceptable part of politics.*

Best,
Helen

*Afterthought - well, maybe not so naive to think that, and maybe murder is still 'of its time' in politics.

catem
09-10-2006, 12:58 PM
Yes, I can see that all that is offensive. It also sounds like it could be pretty silly. I can't say without seeing it, obviously what's often shown has been 'selective' possibly to put it mildly.

One thing I do think is that it's always good to have rational discussions, and closing down discussion doesn't often achieve very much. Even if she did make such a film, it's still unclear to me how far she was fully committed to the ideas portrayed within it. Even if her work is in the end dreadful and beyond the pale I think it's good to analyse what has made it so, if only so we can recognise such tendencies in the future. Don't we have to look at the demons to understand them, and in particular understand their terrible power?

Anyway, the great thing about discussions is I'm now keen to go and find out more for myself......

Cate

Helen B
09-10-2006, 01:07 PM
Don't we have to look at the demons to understand them, and in particular understand their terrible power?

That's pretty much what I've been trying to say, though it may not have come across very well.

Best,
Helen

David H. Bebbington
10-08-2006, 02:56 AM
I would like to add a belated comment:

1) What do I think of the picture of Jesse Owens? Good but not exceptional. As a sports photographer. Riefenstahl was able to recognize that taking a close-up of an athlete's face as he stood on the starting block a split second before the start of a race was likely to yield a good picture. She may well have shot large numbers of the competitors at the 1936 Olympics in this way. Only Owens' dramatic performance lent special signficance to this picture after the fact.

2) What do I think of Leni Riefenstahl? An obviously talented stills photographer and cinematographer who was more than willing to ignore whatever moral principles she did or did not possess in the interests of furthering her career. Some APUGers will know that I am descended from German Jews on my mother's side - my (now separated) wife of 25 years is German and I have spoken to many former Nazis over the years. I avoid moral posturing, I am more interested in eyewitness acccounts of life during the Third Reich BUT one thing I cannot stand is Nazis in denial, who claim either that no crimes took place of that they know nothing of them - there were plenty of indications even by 1936 (Hitler's rise to power supported by the thugs of the SA, his subsequent murder of many of these, his support for Franco in the Spanish Civil War, his assumption of the role of dictator and dissolution of parliament) of what kind of person Hitler was, and I feel that LR was in denial all her life.

In conclusion, I believe that "Triumph of the Will" is studied in film schools by those with ambitions to direct pop videos and commercials!

John Bragg
10-08-2006, 03:35 AM
Good morning David.

I am quite surprised to see this thread come to life again. Thanks for your comment and sincerely held thoughts and feelings on the picture and its author. When I originally posted it, I knew there would be lively debate !!! I agree that the significance of it is mostly after the fact, and the reason for posting was that the use of shadow in its composition picked out Owen,s eye in a sculptural way. His determination seems to be shining out of the darkness surrounding the event.....

Regards, John.

c6h6o3
10-09-2006, 05:48 AM
I avoid moral posturing, I am more interested in eyewitness acccounts of life during the Third Reich BUT one thing I cannot stand is Nazis in denial, who claim either that no crimes took place of that they know nothing of them - there were plenty of indications even by 1936 (Hitler's rise to power supported by the thugs of the SA, his subsequent murder of many of these, his support for Franco in the Spanish Civil War, his assumption of the role of dictator and dissolution of parliament) of what kind of person Hitler was, and I feel that LR was in denial all her life.


There were plent of indications by 1923 (the Beer Hall Putsch). By 1936 there were copies of Mein Kampf on just about every coffee table in the country. Things were way past the indication stage in 1936.

doughowk
10-09-2006, 06:51 AM
Just some thoughts as the centenial of Hannah Arendt's birth (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/09/arts/09conn.html) approaches. We would do well to consider the ease with which a well-educated, democratic society slipped into totalitarianism. Maybe we expect too much of artist/photographers for they/we are merely a part of the culture we live in. The banality of evil can include those who work for the State - a State that commits crimes against humanity. Judgements are easy for the victors to make. There are few photographer/heroes, for most photographers wish to merely pursue their craft. Should we disparage the work of Josef Sudek because he continued as a photographer under both Nazism & Communism?

I think her portrait of Jess Owens is superb especially in comparison to sports photography of that time period.

David H. Bebbington
10-09-2006, 08:40 AM
There were plent of indications by 1923 (the Beer Hall Putsch). By 1936 there were copies of Mein Kampf on just about every coffee table in the country. Things were way past the indication stage in 1936.

What you say is correct, but you have misunderstood my use of the word "indication" (as a synonym for "evidence"). By 1936, the gloves were certainly off, even at the Olympic Games itself athletes of various nations were roughed up by the SS for refusing to give the Hitler salute - which made Owen's performance even more of a poke in the eye for Hitler!

Regards,

David

ZorkiKat
10-09-2006, 09:18 AM
How do you feel about von Karajan or Richard Strauss?

...or the recently departed Elisabeth Schwarzkopf whose career seemed to have been unaffected after WW2? Is it because that these people's art never had political colours? At least not in the obvious sense that is readily seen in L. Riefenstahl's work? How political can one be when one conducts a Beethoven symphony (the only thing which is "odd" about Karajan's work is that he played them slower), or plays a Strauss waltz, or sings Donna Anna in a Mozart opera? Do they sound "Nazi" because at one time of their lives they made music with Hitler?

Try reading Leni Riefenstahl's biography (a rather thick book) and see its film version. The film's title escapes me now, but it was something like "The Wonderful and Terrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl" - I'm sure I got the title wrong, but terrible was in its title. Both materials give an insight to who Ms Riefenstahl was.

Jay

mikeb380
11-21-2006, 08:43 PM
Hardly. Personally, I think this (http://imgs.idnes.cz/atletika/A050713_RAV_OWENSV_V.JPG) one is better.

B.

I think that is a poor photo.it is illy composed and there is no emotion in it at all. The light isn't used as did Riefensthal in hers. I really feel the emotion in Owens face, I think this is much better than the majority of sports photos I've seen. Actually, it isn't a sports photo, rather a portrait of Owens and a damned good one, despite her background.

I'm a Jew and had family and family friends die in that terror of Hitler's and his merry band, but I still have to acknowledge her capacity as a photographer. Look at her use of light and motion in Spear Thrower and again in Circle Dance. Can you honestly tell me that neither is great photography? No, she knew just how to use her tools in order to tell a story or let the viewer gain another viewpoint. I think she was one of the best photographers of that century and yes her ties to nazism were ill done on her part. Her movies were outstanding in their use of light and composition, regardless of the theme of them.

I'm not an apologist for Leni, rather I condemn the whole of the Rat Pack who took over Germany and also the "ordinary" people who let them do so. I don't feel she was any worse than the persons running the ammunitions factories or the clothing mills or the producers of aircraft during that time. What of the "ordinary" grocer, baker, farmer who did nothing to stop Hitler. I do think that one has to separate the abilities of the artist from his/her feelings and actions outside her/his art.

Peace, enjoy the beautiful of this world.
Michael

mikeb380
11-21-2006, 10:04 PM
I wonder if she got a shot of Hitler walking out of the stadium when Jesse Owens won the gold?

Of course she knew it all. The tragedy is that she is credited with anything. I see no difference in her pictures than I do in the lamp shade pictures made on human skin that the Nazi had made from the dead in the death camps. If we can't say that they are all sick bastards then we are doomed. There is no middle ground here. Leni Riefenstahl is as much of a monster as the circle of people around Hitler, including architects, painters, and those who searched the world and stole real art and culture to pervert it to the Nazi goal of supremacy and their 1000 year Reich.

I don't understand you people. I think you are arguing in circles and meaningless ones at that. The ancient Romans took over the known world, going to Cartagena and destroying not only the civilization there, but also destroying the Great Library At Alexandria. and also destroying the greatest repository of books in the known world. Much of what was lost has never been recovered and never will be. The Romans crucified their slaves who were perceived to have done wrong. Every where they went they spread their infamy.Does that mean we should destroy Rome and claim that the architecture and great paintings are not art? The Medici did not hesitate to kill off their opponents when it helped them to forward themselves, or for one of them to marry despite the fact that he was pope and had two children, yet they commissioned some of the great art of the world. Should that be denigrated and destroyed as not being art? While we're a it, how about the Roman church? Lets just look at the time of the Nazi dominance. The church worked hand in glove with the Nazis, turning over to them Jews and others who had escaped Germany and were trying to escape Europe. Let's destroy Vatican City along with all the cathedrals and other amazing architecture as being tainted by the moral turpitude of the Pope and others of the church at that time. Helen, your arguments are specious and juvenile. Whoever said there are absolutes is wrong, there are no absolutes in this universe, every time someone pronounces one, someone else defrocks it. Just because you decry the behavior of an individual or even a country, doesn't mean that you can downgrade the good works which have been done. We might as well say that the roman roads ( many of which are still in use) weren't worth talking about since they destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple there in 7AD. If we suddenly found that Ansel Adams was a covert Ku Klux Klanner, would that make his photos less than we perceive them at present? I think you are getting morals and art confused. Perhaps Leni was a Nazi, perhaps not, that doesn't change the masterly work she did for whatever cause. Does that mean that the present White House Photographer is a talentless fool because he deigned to work for that incompetent ( at best ) bunch in Washington?

I think many of you ought to realign your perceptions with reality. This thread long ago lost track of the original question which had nothing to do with politics but simply of the merits of a single photo. Can you stay on topic?

Michael :confused:

Seabee
11-20-2008, 12:16 PM
Sorry, this post came up when I was writing. True, but "Mein Kampf" was, first, not so widely read, second, if yes, mostly seen as something like fiction or the putting forward of an ideal, and, third, had even in the European abroad received quite favourable reviews. Antisemitism had been not yet outraged, but kept creepig into normal discourse!

Agreed...

In Germany older people say "Mein Kampf was like the bible, every household has one, few people ever read it"

It was a book written by one of 1000 idiots fighting to gain power, spouting bile and (presumably) Bullsht.

If some guy campaigning for president writes a whackjob book like that... do you really take it at face value? Sure, we now have hindsight now and see he did mean it... but would you have believed he was that crazy at the time?

Out of interest, I found this today when googling to find out some things on this thread...

“When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany.”

– Jesse Owens: The Jesse Owens Story, 1970

Does not make Hitler any better than he was, but just to get facts straight.

Seabee
11-20-2008, 12:32 PM
I wonder if she got a shot of Hitler walking out of the stadium when Jesse Owens won the gold?



He did not.

The day before he had walked out about the time an African American had won. Since the war that was seen as a racist sleight, the Germans claimed it was coincidence, that it was his planned departure time.

as mentioned above, J.O wrote..

“When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany.”

– Jesse Owens: The Jesse Owens Story, 1970


Once again, in no way meant to make Hitler sound more human, but in a discussion like this it is essential to stick to facts (which are bad enough when it comes to 3rd Reich) buttering the bread with hearesay and legend minimalizes the real horror of the era.

Best
Chris

praktica
12-21-2008, 05:58 PM
Dear Lukas,

Three. Don't forget Mao. Very roughly, Hitler was reponsible for the deaths of 16,000,000 people; Stalin, for 32,000,000; and Mao for 64,000,000.

Only Mao's regime is still in power -- and doing a roaring trade with the west.

Cheers,

R.

The difference being Hitler didn't win, leaving his victors to make 16,000,001 TV documentaries about him, including such objective productions as "Even Hitler had a girlfriend".

praktica
12-21-2008, 06:35 PM
The data, horrifyingly, included experiments on prisoners in concentration camps to see how long people take to drown.

Do you mean this:


infamous Dachau experiments in which almost 300 male prisoners were placed in vats of freezing water. The men were observed, measured and analysed, sometimes to the point of death; sometimes they were warmed up again with boiling water.

Before feeding them to the loch ness monster.

Philippe-Georges
12-22-2008, 03:24 AM
**