Thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in my recent visit with
master filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl in her 99th year. This visit
came on the heels of an early morning telephone call from Leni and
Horst to my house in September 2001. In her conveyance of her
appreciation for the Das Blaue Licht.net website, they
offered that sometime we should meet. I immediately said that I
would be willing to come to Germany to facilitate this and in an
extreme act of generosity they invited me to come to their home
near Lake Starnburg.
My visit to
Germany came a few months later in December of 2001. It was an excellent opportunity to see
the country which has exerted such an influence on my life and my
understanding of the art of cinema. I took some extra time to visit
various parts of Munich, as well as the Bavarian Alps,
Nuremberg and Salzburg, Austria.
brief train trip down south of Munich took me to the wooded
countryside where I was the guest of Leni and Horst Kettner
in their beautiful home. Her assistant had advised me that due to
failing health, I might expect only a brief visit of 30 minutes or
less. As can be seen in the photos here, Leni
Riefenstahl remains a beautiful and active woman. Both Leni and
Horst were so gracious and warm. I enjoyed the time to sit and
discuss film and the artistic aspects of her work with both of
them over coffee and cake.
In this shot, I
was able to obtain a photo of Leni with a very rare exhibit poster
from the film Das Blaue Licht. On the other side of
the room was another Das Blaue Licht poster, again showing
her beautiful character, Junta. "You have come so far,"
Riefenstahl said, "what do you wish to see ?"
It seemed that
whatever time limits I had been told about before were quickly
discarded. Throughout the
several hours which I spent with them at their home, both Leni and Horst
were candid and open on all topics of discussion. I was especially
pleased to hear that in the past few years, Leni is finding
peace and joy in the more routine praise, tribute and invitations which are finally coming to her.
They have a
well equipped film and photographic studio in their home and I was
very privileged to have Leni show me so many items from her
personal inventory of photographs, posters, awards, her editing
boards and and films.
I was invited
to sit and preview her upcoming underwater documentary with
the sampling of new music, which had only been received by them
the day before,laid on the tracks. I was impressed by the level of
concentration and exertion of control that was obviously necessary
to create this film. To sit in the chair next
to this amazing artist as we went over this unreleased work was
something well beyond description for me.
Zarate, Editor of Das Blaue Licht. Net and Leni Riefenstahl
at her home, December 2001.
afternoon had slipped into evening, Leni had to go. Taking her by
the hand, I expressed my joy at the generosity she had shown me.
They received over 1,100 requests for visits that year; they had
made mine one of the four that she accepted. After all the warm
goodbyes, Horst invited me to sit, relax and he opened a bottle of
champagne. Later, he would not hear of me riding the train back to
the city and he arranged to have his assistant drive me back to
Munich. There are aspects of this visit that I won't discuss here as I value my privacy as
well as the privacy of the Leni and Horst. Suffice it to say that
it is beyond my own ability to characterize the importance of this
event in my life.
will never forget it. Thank you Leni !