Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Someone who saw what she wanted to see
The wonderful life was made 10 years ago when Riefenstahl was approaching 90. The previous reviewer says that it's a weakness of the film that the dialogue is in German with sub-titles. On the contrary, hearing Riefenstahl in her own words is one of its strengths. Her energy and the presence of mind of someone 30 years younger shines through. That's something that...
Published on 26 Sep 2003 by millie1512

versus
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous biography but...
A little disappointing. Make no mistake, this is a wonderful biography of a supreme artist, an autobiographical interview, one might say, and a MUST for any fan of art film.
But there are niggles:
i) The interview is conducted entirely in German, subtitled in English. If you happen to speak German there's no way to turn off the subtitles - a nuisance.
ii)...
Published on 29 April 2003 by Wildfire


Most Helpful First | Newest First

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Someone who saw what she wanted to see, 26 Sep 2003
By 
This review is from: The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD] (DVD)
The wonderful life was made 10 years ago when Riefenstahl was approaching 90. The previous reviewer says that it's a weakness of the film that the dialogue is in German with sub-titles. On the contrary, hearing Riefenstahl in her own words is one of its strengths. Her energy and the presence of mind of someone 30 years younger shines through. That's something that couldn't be conveyed through an English voice over.
What also comes through is that Riefenstahl was someone who clearly saw what she wanted to see and believed what she wanted to believe. 1933 book burning? Filming in the Swiss Alps, and they didn't have TV you know!
Her relationship with Goebbels? Of course he wasn't her friend, he hated her! Did she have any emotional capital invested in nazism when she made triumph of the will? No, she would have done just as good a job editing a speech about vegetables as she did with Hitler's speeches.
And yet, the old lady defended herself well. Riefenstahl never did join the Nazi party and what's evident in "the wonderful life" is that while Triumph of the Will and Olympia certainly had fascistic themes, they steered clear of a lot of the overt nationalism and anti sentimism present in other German propaganda films of the time.
As a a result though she clearly had a real case to answer about the use of sinti and roma in her wartime 'Tiefland' film, after watching "the wonderful life" I did wonder whether the verdict of her post war de nazification trial that she was a sympathiser rather than a big player might be fair.
The one point where the documentary does fall down is that you hear from Leni Riefenstahl for the whole film with the exception of some very brief commentary from two of her cameramen at the 1936 Olympic Games. Either the film should have had interviews with Riefenstahl only. Or the producers should have opened the floodgates and invited comments from more of her contemporaries and detractors.
Also a final word of warning - this is not a light evening's entertainment! Don't expect an hour or 90 minutes of the highlights of Triumph of the Will and Olympia. This is an extremely thorough look at her career from her early mountain films right through to the post war photography in the Sudan that lasts for over three hours.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The woman behind the myth., 19 July 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD] (DVD)
This three hour plus documentary sets out to examine the career and life of probably the most influential,arguably the best,female director and propagandist of the 20th century.Filmed when Rifenstahl was in her 90s,and still active-check the underwater film towards the end of the DVD-she comes across as an articulate and very intelligent critic of her own work.
It starts back in the Berlin of the 1920s,with her acting career in the so-called mountain films.Some great archive footage shows her development into a heroine of this genre,which leads into the start of her directing life.
Her association with the Nazis seems,according to Riefenstahl,to have started by accident.She claims not to have wanted to direct any propaganda films,in fact she claims "Triumph of the Will" and an attempt at filming the 1933 Nuremberg rally are documentaries devoid of propaganda,saying that Hitler was so popular in Germany at this point that any critical film would not have been possible.
Her attempts to disassociate herself from Nazism are challenged by a sequence of quotes from Goebbels' diaries,which state that she was a lot closer to the Party bosses than she later claimed.You're left with the choice of whether to believe the liar of the century or a woman who has every motive to distance herself from this monstrous regime.The descriptions of how the Nuremberg rally was filmed is fascinating.
It then goes on to the Berlin Olympiad film,which took two years to edit into a releaseable film-400 km of film stock to edit!!Some of Riefenstahl's colleagues from 1936 are interviewed and the ways that the sports were filmed,still common in TV sports reporting now,is explained well.
Her downfall,and the way that post-1945,her films were judged contaminated by Nazism,is well depicted.This curse-even when filming in Africa,her depiction of the human form led her film to be judged fascistic-followed her for the rest of her days.She never released a film after 1945.Still,she appears suprisingly chipper for all that in the interviews.
Was she as close or as distant from Nazism as she and others say?The film leaves the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions.It does however force the viewer to see Riefenstahl as a director first,not a Party hack.It also shows the limits of choice in a dictatorship-any of us lucky enough not to have lived under tyranny should be very careful about pointing fingers at those who have,and at the choices they had to make.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous biography but..., 29 April 2003
This review is from: The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD] (DVD)
A little disappointing. Make no mistake, this is a wonderful biography of a supreme artist, an autobiographical interview, one might say, and a MUST for any fan of art film.
But there are niggles:
i) The interview is conducted entirely in German, subtitled in English. If you happen to speak German there's no way to turn off the subtitles - a nuisance.
ii) The sound balance between the bits of English narrative and the interview is uneven. I was forever adjusting the volume. The music (to the documentary, not the film extracts) is pretty appalling.
iii) There is neither supplemental booklet nor extras AT ALL aside from a chapter index. Summarised bio information and a filmography would have been very useful.
iv) One of the extracts is presented at the wrong projection speed.
A far bigger niggle came in the shape of an announcement that the film "offers no preconceptions". Quite the contrary. When introducing Ms Riefenstahl's first meetings with Hitler, we are treated to a dose of the worst aspects of the Nazi regime. The implication (as I read it) was that she accepted the commission to film Triumph of the Will in full knowledge of Nazi atrocities. This was not the case. They met when Hitler was at the height of his popularity as Chancellor, having worked an economic miracle with a Germany left in abject poverty (1 in 3 unemployed) by the draconian demands of the Versailles Treaty. I'm left curious as to why the producers did not stress this, the correct setting into which Ms Liefenstahl entered. They had (and took) plenty of opportunity to deal with the dark side later.
I make this point because without this knowledge I might easily have slipped into believing Ms Leifenstahl's critics perfectly justified, no matter how she pleads.
My interpretation, then, was that her neglect is a gross injustice. She is forever to be victimised - she can do no right. When it isn't the Nazis, it's that her interest in natural, physical beauty makes her a fascist! (I cannot make the association, no matter how hard I try. The world's biggest fascists have been far from physically beautiful!) Besides, we accept musicians like Herbert von Karajan (Member of the Nazi Party) and Richard Strauss (took a few commissions from same) with open arms. Why do we persist in victimising Ms Liefenstahl?
On the plus side, the film contains lots of extracts, ceaselessly inventive and awe-striking. Of particular value are those from her recent marine work - even at ninety she preserves a marvellously creative eye. Scuba diving at ninety? One can only feel for a wonderful, tireless woman with still some way to go. (She is now 100 by the way)
If this film helps expose the ironic injustice it might allow us unabashedly to appreciate, perhaps love her art. A great shame the producers learned little from her!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY?, 9 Mar 2010
By 
Mr. J. E. Thorpe (BRIGHTON,UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD] (DVD)
EVEN IN OLD AGE,LONG AFTER THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR,LENI WAS TOTALLY UNREPENTANT OF HER COLLUSION WITH THE NAZI PARTY.
HER CONSTANT JUSTIFICATION WAS THAT SHE WAS JUST AN ARTIST.
THE FACT THAT HER FILM OF THE NUREMBERG RALLY "THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL" IS WIDELY ACKNOWLEDGED AS THE MOST BRILLIANT PROPAGANDA FILM EVER MADE.

FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN HISTORY OR THE ART OF FILM MAKING THIS IS A MUST!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different standards?, 19 Nov 2007
By 
Joyeuse (Devon) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD] (DVD)
Why were the likes Richard Strauss and Karajan welcomed back into the fold and Riefenstahl wasn't?

She was a woman, that's why. Haven't women always been pilloried for things that men are forgiven, excused and rehabilitated?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Leni!, 30 May 2010
By 
Laura Knight-Jadczyk (France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD] (DVD)
When I put this movie on, frankly, I expected to see an evil Nazi supporter who made the most successful propaganda movie of all time. That's what the hype suggested.

But that's NOT what I saw.

What I saw was a genius, an artist, a tremendously articulate woman who was devoted to her art and got caught in a political trap like millions of others and, in the end, was vilified for basically NOT being political at all. The filmmaker asks her "Don't you think it's the duty of an artist to be politically aware?" What nonsense! It was disgusting to see the filmmakers attempt to further vilify Leni with slimy trick questions like "Have you stopped beating your wife?". Fortunately, they failed. In every case, Leni's sincerity and honesty and self-examination and the way she articulated what actually went on in her mind and her immediate environment shone through as truth in the face of the obvious disrespect and manipulation of the filmmakers.

I was extremely irritated by the repeated attempts of the filmmakers to draw her into politics when it was clear that all Leni wanted to do in her life was make good, artistic films and was simply doing so in a time and a place where she would have been damned if she did and damned if she didn't. As another reviewer points out, "Why were the likes Richard Strauss and Karajan welcomed back into the fold and Riefenstahl wasn't? She was a woman, that's why. Haven't women always been pilloried for things that men are forgiven, excused and rehabilitated?"

The film maker tries to make a big deal out of Leni's declaration that she was NOT friendly with Goebbels and his diary entries where he claimed she was. Anybody with a smidgen of psychological knowledge can see that Goebbels wrote his diary as a fantasy, not as fact. As Leni pointed out, he was a master of the lie! Leni's version has the ring of truth. Goebbels was a disgusting little man and anyone who knows his history knows that what Leni says about him describes him accurately.

It strikes me that trying to lay responsibility for the events of Nazi Germany on Leni is just shameful. Imagine yourself in her world, at that time and that place, and tell me truthfully that you would have done different. You wouldn't. Why? Because if you aren't doing anything to resist the current Fascist takeover of the planet, which is a lot more obvious now that we have the example of the Hitler Reich to compare it to, then you have no excuse. Leni had no such example from history that would help her to know that Hitler and all he stood for was a recipe for disaster. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Leni herself says that what she learned about Hitler after the war was over has affected the whole rest of her life. And not just because she was black-balled, but because the horror was so shocking she has never recovered from it. She plainly says that you face either living with that knowledge or dying, and you face that choice every day. She obviously chose to continue living, but it is obvious that it came at a great cost. But there is no bitterness.

One other point: Leni has been vilified for making "Triumph of the Will." She explains everything about this to the viewer and it all makes perfect sense considering what we now know about Nazi Germany and what we know about pathology in politics. What Leni actually did was make a fantastic film that shows us as clearly as anything ever could exactly how anyone and everyone can be deceived by psychopaths in power. She didn't stage or control what was being filmed, she just recorded it and used her genius to edit the film into art. It is thanks to her that we have a record of that time and those events. This film should be watched by everyone so that they can be aware of how pathological people in power can deceive so many people. In fact, there is a strong resemblance between the followers of Hitler and those who supported George Bush and now, Barack Obama. Leni's film is a lesson from history that should be taken onboard along with the reading of Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes

If you want to see some really sick propaganda films, just watch American movies or fake news and lying journalism on TV every night. Remember that Project Mockingbird was a program to place the CIA in control of journalism. In fact, I would suggest that the makers of this film were trying to create propaganda against Leni.

I'm pretty disgusted with the people making this film and their transparent efforts to corner, pigeonhole, defame Leni. Throughout the film, her honesty and rational answers makes them look petty and pathetic and agenda driven.

If you are interested in Nazi Germany, in film making, in women's issues, this is definitely a film for you. I give it five stars for Leni, not for the filmmakers. She's the star and what a star she is! This is a fascinating film simply due to her presence, her amazing self. The world really lost a great artist for humanity when they sidelined Leni.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xa3c21eac)

This product

The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD]
The Wonderful Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl [DVD] by Wonderful Horrible Life of Riefenstahl (DVD - 2003)
24.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews