: : : The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl


Director Ray Muller's three-hour portrait of controversial filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl grapples with the central controversy of her career: was she a "pure" filmmaker whose political naiveté allowed her stunning visions to be harnessed by Hitler, or was she the key mythmaker of the Nazi propaganda machine? The dancer turned actress turned director is well represented with generous clips from her work both in front of and behind the camera, from the ethereally beautiful The Blue Light through the romantic fantasy Teifland, with special focus on her two most famous works: the stunning propaganda piece The Triumph of the Will (a chillingly brilliant work of demagoguery which she helped design and stage as well as film) and the poetic, technically breathtaking documentary Olympia. After her exile from filmmaking, she became an acclaimed ethnographic photographer and more recently a scuba diver and underwater photographer. Though she was over 90 at the time of the interviews, Riefenstahl's energy and commanding presence dominate the film and overpower Muller. At one point she practically grabs the directorial reins from him. The film never really resolves her complicity as a Nazi propagandist; she maintains her innocence while Muller questions her assertions with contrary evidence, but he appears too awed to really push the issue. Whatever your feelings, it's hard not to come away from this film just a little awed by the talented and tenacious Ms. Riefenstahl yourself. --Sean Axmaker


Leni Riefenstahl

  • Genre: Documentaries
  • Director: Ray M?r (III)
  • Producer: Kino
  • Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaJun 1, 1994
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaApr 27, 1999
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