Helene Bertha Amalie “Leni” RiefenstahlÂ (22 August 1902 â 8 September 2003) was a German film director, actress and dancer who introduced innovative and original techniques and aesthetics to the world of filmmaking.Â Two of her most most famous films wereÂ Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) and Olympia (featured images).
Olympia is film released in 1938,Â documenting theÂ 1936 Summer Olympics, held in theÂ Olympic Stadium inÂ Berlin,Â Germany. The film was released in two parts:Â Olympia 1. Teil â Fest der VĂ¶lker (Festival of Nations) andÂ Olympia 2. Teil â Fest der SchĂ¶nheit (Festival of Beauty). It was the first documentaryÂ feature film of the Olympic Games ever made. Reifensthal introduced many advancedÂ motion picture techniques, which we now take for granted as industry standards, but which were groundbreaking at the time, including unusual camera angles,Â smash cuts, extremeÂ close-ups, placingÂ tracking shot rails within the bleachers.
The film is controversial due to its political context, with many asking the question – Brilliant cinematography or Nazi propaganda?
“On the surface, the film appears to be a very well made sports film, depicting outstanding athletic accomplishments by many individuals and teams from throughout the world. However, as Germanyâs intentions became clearer in the period before World War II, critics became more and more suspicious that the actual motive for producing âOlympiaâ was political promotion.” – Robert C. Schneider & William F. Stier, 2001
“Although the film may not have been intended as propaganda, the fact that there existed propagandistic overtones meant German audiences, who were accustomed to such ideas being conveyed in their media, would make the political connections suggested by the film.” – Guido Rings, 1982