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Leni Riefenstahl: Nazi Propaganda Films

The controversial Nazi film maker Leni Riefenstahl.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Nazi Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels: German propaganda minister, WWII-era Footages, WWII Photograph Collections.

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How the Nazis' Horrific Siege of Leningrad Ended in Failure
Leningrad was the sacred city of Soviet Communism. The port city on the Neva River, 400 miles northwest of Moscow, began life in 1703 as Petrograd, or St. Petersburg, after its founder, Czar Peter the Great. For two centuries (1712-1918) it was the capital of the Russian Empire—a place of stunning architectural beauty and historical significance, a city of czars and czarinas, of gold-domed cathedrals, breathtaking Baroque palaces, and rich political intrigue. Petrograd was also the scene of a major history-changing event: the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

The wonderful, horrible afterlife of Leni Riefenstahl
Leni Riefenstahl is best-known for her 1935 film “Triumph of the Will.” The movie, the single most famous piece of Nazi propaganda, is a populist exaltation of Hitler; it focuses as much on the Führer’s devotees as on the man himself. Often cited as one of the most innovative films ever made, “Triumph of the Will” has been seen as a staple of the cinematic canon. It has an 87% positive critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In a November BBC poll of 400 movie experts, it was ranked the 45th-greatest movie ever made by a woman. Riefenstahl’s “Olympia,” her 1938 documentary about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was number 37.

Leni Riefenstahl: both feminist icon and fascist film-maker
The dancer, actress, director and photographer Helene “Leni” Riefenstahl, who died in 2003, is a controversial character, largely because of the many propaganda movies she produced for the Nazis. So when it was recently announced that her estate would be handed over to a Berlin photography museum, historians of the period hoped to find some clarification about the extent of her involvement with the Nazi regime.

Estate of Hitler's filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, donated to Berlin foundation
A German cultural foundation has been bequeathed photos, films, manuscripts and letters that belonged to the controversial filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, best known as the director of several Nazi propaganda movies.

Is it so wrong to love Leni Riefenstahl`s Olympia?
As the 2018 Olympics conquer the world, The Criterion Collection releases a Riefenstahl compendium, and that`s fine.

Triumph Of The Will (Blu-ray)
The Synapse Films Blu-ray edition of Triumph of the Will uses an all-new high-def 2K digital remaster of the film, in pillarboxed 1.19:1 aspect ratio. Derived from a duplicate 35mm fine grain master, the film stock has a few instances of flashing but looks terrific for the most part, conveying an appealing texture without appearing too cleaned-up. The disc includes a feature-length Audio Commentary with Dr. Anthony R. Santoro, a specialist on National Socialist German history. Throughout the track, Dr. Santoro provides background on each ceremony, pointing out their purposes and the various duties of Hitler's associates. A valuable addition is Day of Freedom (1935), a 17-minute short commissioned by the Nazi Party to show maneuvers and daily vignettes from the Party's armed forces unit.

Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will dated for Blu-ray
The 1935 Third Reich film is headed for Blu-ray this winter. In an early announcement to retailers, Synapse Films says 'Triumph of the Will' will arrive on Blu-ray on December 8, 2015. Leni Riefenstahl's classic piece of historical filmmaking, filmed during the 1934 Nazi Party Rally in Nuremberg, Germany, is considered one of the most important films ever made. Realized by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, this film was created to influence all of Germany to support the power of the Nazi Party. Historically significant and, at times, a horrifyingly manipulative exercise in propaganda for the Nazi regime, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL continues to be controversial eighty years after its original release and has been banned in Germany for many decades.

Leni Riefenstahl`s Impossible Dream: Tiefland, Fantasy and the Fuhrer`s Shadow
April 20th, 1938 marked Adolf Hitler`s 49th birthday. In the past five years, he`d rebuilt Germany from destitute anarchy into a burgeoning war machine, repudiated the Versailles Treaty and, that March, incorporated Austria into his Thousand-Year Reich. In Nazi Germany, fantasy co-mingled with ideology, expressing an obsession with Germany`s mythical past through propaganda and art. Hitler celebrated at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, Germany`s most prestigious cinema. There, Nazi officials and foreign diplomats joined dignitaries of German kultur. The evening`s star, however, wasn`t Goebbels or even Hitler, but a filmmaker premiering her documentary about the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She found the Palast adorned in swastikas and Olympic rings, with Germany`s Olympic team greeting her. Most gratifyingly, her name glowed from the marquee: LENI RIEFENSTAHL.

Actress whose grandfather helped Jews escape from the Nazis got the lead role in a movie about Leni Riefenstahl
A GERMAN actress whose grandfather helped Jews escape from the Nazis has landed the lead role in a new movie about the Third Reich`s genius propaganda moviemaker Leni Riefenstahl. Maria Furtwaengler, who is best known in her homeland playing a Prime Suspect-style detective in the popular TV series Crime Scene, will star as Riefenstahl in the two-hour film being produced by the ZDF TV network. Furtwaengler said she was thrilled to have got the part: "I have a penchant for personalities that have decisively shaped our modern image of women." Riefenstahl, who died at 101 in 2003, was a stellar filmmaker whose Triumph of the Will about the 1934 Nuremberg Nazi party rally portrayed Germans as the supermen. She went on to make another ground breaking documentary called Olympia about the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Pictures of Leni Riefenstahl's cameraman Hans Ertl surface in Bolivia
A good-looking cameraman is standing on a diving board filming a diver as he jumps. This is just one of the photos of the 1936 Berlin Olympics brought out for the first time - a rare look into how the film Olympia was made. One of the most impressive sports films of all times, it was the part of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels's crusade to show the brilliance of the German Reich. The cameraman is Hans Ertl, the right-hand man and lover of Leni Riefenstahl. "My father knew Hitler well... Leni of course was his true love, he kept repeating this until the last days of his life," recalled his daughter Beatriz, who handed over these stored-away pictures.

A good play about Leni Riefenstahl - The Maybe-Nazi
There was a woman, born in 1902, who lived to be 101 years old. She became a dancer, then a film actor. She directed two of the most applauded films in the history of cinema. But something went wrong: no one would fund her films. So she became a photographer instead. There was a woman, born in Germany, who thought Adolf Hitler was the best thing to happen to Germany, ever. She never joined the Nazi party, but she became a "close personal friend" of Hitler, who supported her work: Triumph of the Will (the 1934 Nazi rallies at Nuremberg) and Olympia (the 1936 Oympics). This is Leni Riefenstahl, and the engaging play "Leni" at the Strawberry Theatre Workshop.

Leni Riefenstahl photos worth $5.9 million stolen from German firm
German authorities are investigating the theft of 250 photographs by Leni Riefenstahl, Adolf Hitler's official filmmaker, from the basement of a firm in Cologne. The Riefenstahl photos and 300 works by American photographer Elliott Erwitt disappeared from the offices of Photo Estate GmbH. The estimated value of all the works taken is as much as $5.9 million. Leni Riefenstahl died in 2003 at the age of 101. Films she made of a Nazi party rally in Nuremberg in 1934 and the 1936 Berlin Olympics brought her fame before the Second World War II - and left her a notorious figure after the war ended.

Jodie Foster starring as the Third Reich's propaganda genius Leni
Jodie Foster will play the leading role of Riefenstahl in a work that is bound to generate argument, as it examines the beautiful woman who became Adolf Hitler's favourite director and whose propaganda helped the Nazi war machine. The on-again, off-again project has been in the works for 7 years, but now a script is being written by Rupert Walters. Leni Riefenstahl became a dancer and star of silent cinema, before moving into directing. At a 1932 Nazi rally she saw Hitler speak for the first time. It was a mesmerising experience for her, and Hitler in turn saw the young film-maker as someone who could bring Nazi ideals to life through the medium of film.

Leni Riefenstahl in America: Pretty as a Swastika   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A photograph from Steven Bach`s biography of the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, known to 1930s anti-fascist wags as "Hitler`s Honey," shows her in a cowgirl outfit. It is 1938. She is in Hollywood. And no one wants anything to do with her. It`s hard to say whether this would have happened had she arrived before Kristallnacht. Among the few people to meet with Leni were the two embodiments of all-American anti-Semitism, Henry Ford and Walt Disney. Ford was a vocal devotee of the German strongman and the recipient of honors from the Nazi regime, while Uncle Walt was tied in with America First types and the Midwestern fascists known as the Silver Shirts.

Leni Riefenstahl, Nazi Muse, Recalled in New Bach Biography
"Fate smiled on her in the person of Adolf Hitler, and she smiled back," writes Steven Bach in his biography of Leni Riefenstahl. What keeps her name in lights are the documentaries of Hitler's 1934 Nuremberg Party Congress and the 1936 Olympics in Berlin: Triumph of the Will, and Olympia. Bach has also written biographies of Marlene Dietrich and Moss Hart. "I began from the position she wanted me to begin from: that she was a political naif. As I got deeper, that was impossible to accept. ...even if she never was a nazi party member - only 5% of German women joined the party, so that's meaningless - she was in great sympathy with the aims of the party."

2 biographies of Leni Riefenstahl - Expert manipulator
"The borderline between life and film is in constant flux with Leni Riefenstahl," Ray Muller said after interviewing his legendary colleague for a documentary in 1992. The reader of two biographies (Leni Riefenstahl: A Life by Jurgen Trimborn - Leni: The Life And Works Of Leni Riefenstahl by Steven Bach) can only agree: The woman known as "Hitler's filmmaker" strove for 7 decades to make the facts of her life fit the way she wanted her life and her films to be interpreted. Both books center on refuting Leni Riefenstahl's denials concerning her involvement with Adolf Hitler and National Socialism.

Leni: affair with american, detested one of the Third Reich's top nazi
Until she died in 2003, Leni Riefenstahl (producer of Triumph of the Will) was reviled as an evil cog in the Nazi war machine. In a new book "Leni" Steven Bach reveals she was repulsed by Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, who would plead for sex despite the metal brace he wore because of a shortened leg. "She referred to him as 'the cripple' in private and was repelled... when he fell to his knees, clutched at her ankles, and sobbed with desire, or he grabbed her breasts, 'his face completely distorted' with lust." At the 1936 Olympics Leni had a secret affair with U.S. gold-medal winner Glenn Morris.

Hitler’s Leni - She stood out wherever she was
She always wore white clothes. She stood out wherever she was. Passionate and confident, she was queenly and arrogant in nature. German women at that time had to be satisfied with 3Ks: child (Kinder), church (Kirche), and kitchen (Küche). However, she was an exception. She was the only woman who was allowed to pass through the wall of guards surrounding Hitler even without an appointment. Like Hitler, she loved myth. Were Riefenstahl’s movies really propagandas of Hitler’s evil empire? In the court after the war Riefenstahl was judged, "There was no crime to punish her for."

Triumph of the Will: Special Edition
"One people! One leader! One Reich! Germany!" - crowd during the Reich Labor Service review. Leni Reifenstahl's 1934 Triumph of the Will, is considered a propaganda masterpiece. Featuring powerful cinematography and editing, the film builds an image of a charismatic leader contradictory to his later actions. We see the adoration of his public, the respect by his subordinates, and the strength with which he would lead Germany into their future. The techniques and imagery would serve as example, and her influence can be found in many modern productions, from political campaign ads to the closing ceremonial scenes in Star Wars.

3 Leni Riefenstahl Alpine fantasies: S.O.S. Iceberg, White Hell of Pitz Palu, Storm Over Mont Blanc
Kino has released 3 Alpine fantasies, all directed by Dr. Arnold Fanck and starring Leni Riefenstahl. S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) was Leni's final acting part, before she filmed Triumph of the Will. This mountaineering epic is filled with calamity and tireless rescue, with Riefenstahl's heroine tromping up real glaciers herself. The stories may be stock, but the real-time grappling between actors and real icebergs, crevices and polar bears can be amazing. The White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929) and Storm Over Mont Blanc (1930) fill out the mold as well. Extras include a rare Fanck-directed short and a 2002 interview with Riefenstahl.

Art of Justice: The Filmmakers At Nuremberg
Years before he wrote "On the Waterfront," and before he earned the ire of many colleagues by testifying during the Hollywood communist witch hunt, writer Budd Schulberg had the distinct honor of arresting Leni Riefenstahl. He was in Germany, assembling a film to be used at the Nuremberg trials as evidence against the Nazis. Riefenstahl, the legendary director and propagandist for Hitler, knew where the skeletons were. So Schulberg, dressed in his military uniform, drove to her chalet on a lake in Bavaria, knocked on her door, and told the panicked artist that she was coming with him.

Hundreds mourn Hitler's film-maker
Hundreds of people have gathered in Munich to mourn the loss of controversial German film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, who used her talents to make masterful Nazi propaganda. About 500 friends and admirers - including her longtime companion Horst Kettner and media mogul Leo Kirch - filed into a hall in Munich's Ostfriedhof cemetery where the film-maker's coffin was on display. "What she wanted, she could do. Leni, now you are at home in our hearts," said Antje-Katrin Kuehnemann, a personal friend of Riefenstahl. In accordance with her wishes, Riefenstahl will be cremated.

Leni Riefenstahl - The last of the Third Reich cultural elite died
Leni Riefenstahl, who died aged 101, was perhaps the most talented female cinema director of the 20th century; her celebration of Nazi Germany in film ensured that she was certainly the most infamous. The last surviving member of the cultural elite of the Third Reich, Leni Riefenstahl was for 50 years vilified by successive generations as Hitler's film-maker, a propagandist whose images - notably her films of the Nuremberg rallies - exulted in German strength and glorified the Nazi creed of racial purity.

Leni Riefenstahl - Dancer, actress and director
Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda films for the Nazi Party in the 1930s brought her praise for their beauty and power, but she spent her life defending her artistic association with Adolf Hitler. Born in Berlin in 1902, she was a dancer with Max Reinhard's Deutsches Theater until a knee injury forced her to change career. Dr Arnold Fanck, a leading German director, took her on, and she was soon established as one of Germany's leading ladies. She also ran her own production company and, when Hitler and the Nazis came to power the following year, Riefenstahl attracted the admiration of both the Fuehrer and his propaganda chief, Josef Goebbels.

Riefenstahl race-hate charges dropped
German prosecutors have decided not to press race-hate charges against Leni Riefenstahl because of lack of evidence. Ms Riefenstahl was accused by German gypsies' association Rom of lying about the fate of more than 100 gypsies, who were taken from concentration camps to be used as extras in her films. Ms Riefenstahl said in an interview that the gypsies, used in her 1942 film Tiefland, or Lowland, all survived the war. "We saw all the gypsies that played in Lowlands again after the war. Nothing happened to them." However Rom said that many of them in fact were returned to the death camps, where they were subsequently killed.

Leni Riefenstahl - In the shadow of the swastika
Before her 100th birthday, film-maker Leni Riefenstahl answered a series of questions. As the last surviving high-profile figure who had been intimately associated with the Third Reich, Riefenstahl remains a compromised figure, as much despised for her unapologetic attitude to her own dubious past as admired for her pioneering brilliance with a movie camera. "I first saw Adolf Hitler in May 1932, at the Berliner Sportpalast. I was amazed to see what a tremendous power he held over his listeners. Just like a hypnotist, Hitler was able to cast a spell over the audience and make them do exactly what he wanted."

The five lives of extraordinary Leni Riefenstahl
Five Lives chronicles in pictures the life of one of the 20th Century's most extraordinary women, the notorious German film-maker, Leni Riefenstahl. Its title, Five Lives, gives some clue as to its subject's remarkable ability to reinvent herself. The young Leni started as a dancer, touring as a solo performer until injury forced her to quit. In the 1920s she transformed herself into a film star, showcasing her beauty and athleticism. At the time it was unheard of for an actor - let alone an actress - to make the transition to director, yet Riefenstahl managed it. She made a feature film, The Blue Light, whose fans included Adolf Hitler.