As a film archivist who has Timed (graded the film from scene to scene for contrast and exposure) original outtakes from "Olympia", a dupe negative of "Triumph of the Will" and the camera-original, nitrate negative of the Nazi extermination of the Warsaw Ghetto, I have seen and held in my hands, byproducts directly relating to Nazism and the art used to encourage that insane political movement.
Warsaw Ghetto; It wasn't fun watching hundreds of skeleton-like corpses slide down makeshift wood and tin slides into huge slit trenches, or see those who were executed, lined up and shot in the back of the head. The film itself was very plainly made; a competently exposed, framed and shot film, but it was only the horrific subject matter that made it so powerful.
It WAS entertaining to watch the camera work and precision timing of Olympia and TOTW from a purely aesthetic and technical standpoint and see first hand the obvious skill used to craft these persuasive documents that lead to the gruesome climax of WWII.
I must say that those who, by reflex, condemn and cast aside Riefenstahl's work for whatever reason are, in my opinion, condemned to relearn the painful lessons of history that have been paid for with millions of lives already. If anything else, it should be taken up and studied more intently as it was used as an instrument for evil, and I don't think it can be denied that it was a quite effective instrument.
If you don't understand why it was effective, why the art behind the madness pulled so many people along to their graves, then you stand a chance of being the next to jump in the grinding machine of war for insane principals.
Now that electronic media saturates everyday life for most people, I has become my impression that they somehow feel they are sophisticated consumers of media, when in fact, I find that most don't have a CLUE as to how they are being manipulated and how their emotions are being toyed with to advance various political agendas; which is just what Riefenstahl's work was used to accomplish.
Sadly, I feel a vast majority of my fellow Americans are some of the least sophisticated consumers of media and are growing more feeble by the year if the film and television programs that are cropping up as of late are any indication.
How does that tie in to modern life? So glad you asked...
It will be interesting to see public reaction (everywhere) to the ABC television movie on 9/11 and how they react should the program grossly misrepresent the events leading up to and beyond the attacks on the WTC. The filmmaker certainly appears to have an ax to grind and has made no bones about his affiliation to the far Religous Right in the past , so this should be an interesting test of reactions...
Can art be separated from dogma? I think so, but you won't see that being encouraged in the USA, as it does NOT feed into the political agendas on either side of the fence.
Asbestos underwear on...