The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl

IMDb Rating 8 10 1,385


Downloaded 8,888 times
June 29, 2019



Adolf Hitler as Self
Marlene Dietrich as Lady Maria Barker
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1.52 GB
23.976 fps
183 min
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2.96 GB
23.976 fps
183 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by B24 10 / 10 / 10

A glimpse of the German soul as well as a documentary

In this year that Bowling For Columbine -- an unapologetically political and controversial film -- has won the Oscar for best documentary, the story of Leni Riefenstahl and her work seems very timely indeed. This engaging montage of primary and contemporary interviews with her, together with samples of her oeuvre beginning in the era of silent film, accomplish precisely what a documentary is designed to do. Director Mueller spares no effort to uncover his subject's motivation, even as he focusses on the history and nature of her art. There is some irony at work here. We see a very German director attempting to dissect thoroughly the life and craft of another very German director. Not that there is any comparison to be made between the subject matter of one to the other, but when Riefenstahl takes Mueller to task for his filmmaking style in drawing her out, we cannot help but find delight in it. And his bit of eavesdropping on her between takes is priceless. Far from the perennial films about the Holocaust that portray Germans as something less than human, this documentary offers ample evidence that genius and human frailty are universal and far from mutually exclusive attributes in all sorts of people. But if one may deduce anything at all about the nature of the German soul in contrast to that of, say, a typical American, the life of Leni Riefenstahl as offered here stands out vividly by example of first one and then the other seemingly contradictory characteristic. She was after all the "nice" girl who stayed home and played patriot while Marlene Dietrich was the "bad" girl who betrayed her country. One can almost smell the cordite in the air during their related encounters. Much is made of the fact that Ms. Riefenstahl protests too much. Indeed that is a complaint one hears often about Germans who lived through the Hitler epoch seeing nothing, hearing nothing. But that surely begs the question, considering that it was and is a nation of eighty million descended from a vast cross section of central European races, including uncounted geniuses, saints, and criminals alike. If there is anything uniquely German about such a pose, it is only that they tend to be meticulously accurate in everything they do, whether for good or evil. The most annoying thing about Germans is their uncanny zeal in trying to find exact words that reflect logical and complicated reasons for everything -- including their own behavior. Under that circumstance, it is but a short step to denial once no easy answers appear. As a bilingual viewer of this documentary, I had the benefit of second-guessing the subtitles as well. Some were wildly wrong, and none could capture the tonal nuances, the careful phrasing, and the subtle interplay between Mueller and Riefenstahl as they parried one another's verbal thrusts. While far less original and profound than the master's work being discussed, Mueller did a very creditable job here.

Reviewed by bullfrog-5 8 / 10 / 10

A most revealing portrait

This is an excellent biography of one of the most influential filmmakers in history. It not only gives a comprehensive overview of her body of work but reveals many of innovative techniques she pioneered. Her accomplishments are all the more impressive when one considers the role of women in her heyday. However, the most interesting aspect of this film for me is how this intelligent woman (still lucid in her 90's) deals with queries about her political involvement during the National Socialist period in Germany.

Reviewed by sbibb1 8 / 10 / 10

Still Feisty at 90

This documentary was apparently one of the first to examine Leni's life with her actually being interviewed at great depth. The film is broken up into two parts, her films as an actress and her relations with the Nazi party, and then her later films and the rest of her life. The film is fascinating, showing many lengthy clips from all her films. There is no questions that she was a very, very talented filmmaker, and very innovative for her time. Many of the camera angles and shots that she used were invented by her, and are still in wide use today. It is very clear that at the time the film was made, that Leni was still used to being in control. She is apparently difficult as an interview subject, and is seen in many shots refusing to do what the cameraman tells her. She is also very highly defensive of our association with the Nazi party. At one point, the interviewer asks her about her relationship with Goebels. She replies that she knew him only casually and then had a falling out, after which they never spoke again. However, when she is confronted with the diaries of Goebels, and according to them, they both saw each other at numerous social and political functions, Leni becomes mad and walks out. My own personal belief is that she has tried to whitewash her association with the Nazi party in her later years.

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