Leni Riefenstahl, 1902-2003
- Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, born 22 August 1902, died today at the age of
101 in Germany. The film for which she was best known, <Triumph of the Will>,
was produced in 1935 as a documentary of the 1934 Nuremberg rally of the
National Socialist Party, and this is still regarded, even by her detractors,
as a masterpiece of cinematography. In later years she was known for her
films of marine life, and she engaged in scuba diving well into her 90s.
The world has lost a truly legendary figure.
>Sad news. At Cincinnati they showed another film by
>Leni Riefenstahl, Der Sieg des Glaubens, The Victory
>of the Faith. That had to do with the 1933 Nazi Party
>Rally in Nuremberg. (Triumph of the Will was about
>the 1934 Rally). Victory of the Faith had several
>scenes of Hitler next to Ernst Roehm, so Hitler had
>all the compies recalled after anti-Roehm coup. But I
>guess a few survived. If interested Lance
>Frickensmith's war book store has copies.
>Obviously, Victory of the Faith is of interest to film
>buffs because it is the "dress rehearsal" for Triumph
>of the Will. But in my opinion Victory of the Faith
>is actually more enjoyable than Triumph of the Will
>because it was made on a smaller budget and had fewer
>technical innovations and was, in short, less
>So, for example, there's a scene where Baldur von
>Schirach, the head of the Hitler Youth is introducing
>Hitler and inadvertantly sweeps Hitler's hat from the
>rostrum to the floor with his butt. Another scene
>shows Nazi leaders almost jostling one another to get
>in the ranks of those right behind the Fuehrer.
>I can't remember Triumph of the Will well enough, but
>as Irving pointed out during the showing of Victory of
>the Faith in Cincinnati, where there are huge mob
>scenes with policemen keeping crowds back from the
>streets as the Nazi leaders pass in their cars, those
>policemen are facing forward, towards the motorcade,
>not backward looking at the crowd as is the case with
>security now. Of course Hitler and his leaders also
>travelled in open cars with no plexiglass shields,
>Another interesting aspect is that Hitler, Hess, and
>Julius Schtreicher who give short addresses in the
>film all speak impromptu with no notes, let alone
>teleprompters. The one person who does speak from a
>written text is an Italian Fascist representative who
>brought greetings from Mussolini.
>Anyhow, I found that a most interesting film and I
>bought a copy and took it to show my father just last
>weekend. Of course I did mention that Leni
>Riefenstahl was still alive. Alas, now that is no
Thank you for this fascinating account. I did not see
that film, but back in the early '90s when I was a graduate
student in Tucson, I found a video rental establishment
that had <Triumph of the Will>, and I rented it several
times--a truly talented production. Thank you also for
the account of President Hussein's recent public appearance.
It is indeed ironic how "totalitarian" leaders such as these
have far less fear of their own people than "democratic"
leaders like Bush and Blair.