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(Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl)


Born: Berlin, Germany, 22 August 1902.

Leni Riefenstahl (JPG, 11 KB)

Trained as a dancer, Riefenstahl started her film career as an actress in Arnold Fanck's "mountain films" (Der heilige Berg / The Holy Mountain, 1926, among others). With her first film as a director, Das blaue Licht / The Blue Light (1932), Riefenstahl not only gained critical and commercial success, but also won Hitler's personal approval, leading to a commission to film the Nuremberg Party Convention in 1934. Triumph des Willens / Triumph of the Will (1935), with its careful orchestration of narrative structure and spectacle, remains the best-known film of Nazi cinema, retaining its ambivalent power of propaganda and visual pleasure. Riefenstahl thought of herself as an independent film artist but claimed that it was her close personal relationship with the Führer which led to her second feature-length documentary, the two-part Olympia (1938), a record of the 1936 Olympic Games. Detained in Allied prison camps for almost four years on charges of pro-Nazi activity, she found herself economically as well as socially isolated after the war. After numerous attempts to restart a career in film, she turned successfully to photography, attracting fiercely loyal admirers but also implacable and unforgiving critics.

Michael Wedel, Encyclopedia of European Cinema

Internet Movie Database

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This page was last updated on 3 September 2000.