Films Directed by Leni Riefenstahl
TRIUMPH DES WILLENS (1935)
"It seemed as if the earth's surface were spreading out in front of me", Leni Riefenstahl
Triumph des Willens remains the single most controversial film of its time. It is the film which has forced Leni Riefenstahl into cinematic exile. Inaccuracies are perpetuated by some who see it as "the film that started the Holocaust" . The anger directed toward the artist is not helped by Riefenstahl's own honesty about her perspective on Hitler and the Third Reich which was favorable in 1934. Yet, historically it is clear that Riefenstahl's perspective was at a time that long preceded concentration camps, "the final solution", and World War II.
The film has been banned in Germany since the War. At a recent exhibit in Potsdam of Riefenstahl's photographic work, it was noted that the crowds were not looking at her oversized images of Africa. Rather they were crowding around a small TV that was playing a tape of Triumph des Willens. In Germany it was the only known public "screening" of that film in over fifty years.
Premiere screening of Triumph des Willens, 1935
French cinema acknowledges the artistic effort
Whatever one's perspective, its place in film and world history is not in doubt.