September 9, 2003

Riefenstahl Into The Great Beyond

Like those family members whom you have to invite to Thanksgiving even though you'd never choose to have drinks with them on a Friday night, there are certain figures in filmmaking that one must give props to, despite their sketchy personal life or politics. Leni Riefenstahl, director of Triumph of the Will, the docu about Nazi Germany at the height of its influence who died today at the age of 101, is one such figure.

Riefenstahl created a masterpiece about a monster with her lush black and white images of perfect Nazi marching formations. In many ways, her fascination with patterns can't help but bring to mind similar obsessions by photographer/directors like Stanley Kubrick with his beautiful atom bombs at the end of Dr. Strangelove or Busby Berkeley and his camera diving through the legs of thirty identical smiling girls all in a row. Such beautiful pictures and such complicated subject matter. Is it possible to respect Riefenstahl as an artist, even in the face of her implicated association with the Hitler and his fascist agenda? Cinecultist thinks so, but also thinks its terribly uncertain ground, one that should be left open for extended debate and discussion. Until then, Au Weidersein Frau Riefenstahl.

Posted by karen at September 9, 2003 6:21 PM