8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Art Before Life?,
This review is from: Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (Paperback)
The author of this book has done an extremely good job of laying out the life of this most loved and most reviled of 20th Century film-makers. Despite the fact that he is or was a Jew, I found Steven Bach's treatment even-handed on the whole. Venom seeped out a little towards the end of the book, but on the whole this is a generally fair biography, showing that Leni Riefenstahl WAS indeed ganged up against by Jewish interests, especially in Hollywood, well before the Second World War and its unpleasantness (to use an understatement reminiscent perhaps of those Southern gentlemen who refer to the American Civil War as "the unpleasantness of the 1860's").
In the 1920's, the German studio Ufa was the biggest film-making effort outside Hollywood. Leni was an actress, by today's standards arguably not very good, but one has to remember that she was acting mostly in days of silent film. Bach does show by examples of Leni's behaviour after WW2 that she was quite a good actress in fact, when it suited her. As to her directing skills, eventually through her own company and not Ufa, one need only direct the curious to see Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens). Try to get a clear or remastered copy though. This film has probably been the most influential of its kind in 20th Century cinema and, as Bach shows in his book, has had influence which reaches through to feature films and to advertisements (even billboards or hoardings) today.
Her love for Hitler is not in doubt, though she was not a member of the NSDAP at the time of Triumph of the Will and the Nuremberg rally (NSDAP Parteitag) of 1934 which is its subject. Other major works were "Olympia" and "Germania".
After WW2, Leni was cold-shouldered in much of the world and turned to still photography, especially of the Nuba people of the Sudan. She lived to a very advanced age and her name is still honoured or at least, by the anti-Nazi "claque" of the mass media, remembered, put it that way! While it is true that the sort of people of watch "X Factor" or "Coronation Street" will not know her name, in a way that's the point. She was a self-standing artist, a type which emerged gradually in the 19th Century (Wagner being the obvious example), but which has not found a foothold in most cases in Hollywood, because of the predominance of what might be diplomatically called "the money men".
I should say that this book is certainly well worth reading so long as one keeps in mind the inevitable though quite muted "anti-Nazi" bias throughout.
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Dec 2013 23:13:27 GMT
Richard Smith says:
Plenty of us who watch "X-Factor" and "Coronation Street" know who she is. Don't be so presumptuous and short-sighted re "the masses".
‹ Previous 1 Next ›