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Triumph of the Will (DVD)
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Triumph of the Will is one of the most important films ever made, not because it documents evil--more watchable examples are being made today. And not as a historical example of blind propaganda--those (much shorter) movies are merely laughable now. No, Riefenstahl's masterpiece--and it is a masterpiece, politics aside--combines the strengths of documentary and propaganda into a single, overwhelmingly powerful visual force. Riefenstahl was hired by the Reich to create an eternal record of the 1934 rally at Nuremberg, and that's exactly what she does. You might not become a Nazi after watching her film, but you will understand too clearly how Germany fell under Hitler's spell. The early crowd scenes remind one of nothing so much as Beatles concert footage (if only their fans were so well behaved!). Like the Fascists it monumentalises, Triumph of the Will overlooks its own weaknesses--at nearly two hours, the speeches tend to drone on, and the repeated visual motifs are a little over-hypnotic, especially for modern viewers. But the occasional iconic vista (banners lining the streets of Nuremberg, Hitler parting a sea of 200,000 party members standing at attention) will electrify anyone into wakefulness. --Grant Balfour, Amazon.com
Triumph of the Will is one of the most important films ever made, not because it documents evil--more watchable examples are being made today. And not as a historical example of blind propaganda--those (much shorter) movies are merely laughable now. No, Riefenstahl's masterpiece--and it is a masterpiece, politics aside--combines the strengths of documentary and propaganda into a single, overwhelmingly powerful visual force. Riefenstahl was hired by the Reich to create an eternal record of the 1934 rally at Nuremberg, and that's exactly what she does. You might not become a Nazi after watching her film, but you will understand too clearly how Germany fell under Hitler's spell. The early crowd scenes remind one of nothing so much as Beatles concert footage (if only their fans were so well behaved!).
Like the Fascists it monumentalises, Triumph of the Will overlooks its own weaknesses--at nearly two hours, the speeches tend to drone on, and the repeated visual motifs are a little over-hypnotic, especially for modern viewers. But the occasional iconic vista (banners lining the streets of Nuremberg, Hitler parting a sea of 200,000 party members standing at attention) will electrify anyone into wakefulness. --Grant Balfour, Amazon.com -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.See all Product description
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Having said that, the dvd is a fine example of WW2 propaganda and still being sealed in the plastic it is obviously not the sellers fault that the quality is not 100% throughout.
If you have any interest in the history of cinema and have never seen this film, you need to. Riefenstahl's clever techniques include combining close-up details of the faces of ordinary participants juxtaposed with mass marching formations and stirring martial music, rostrum speeches, long scenes of ecstatic crowds which a less courageous film maker would have shortened, and camera perspectives from the air, from street level and angled upwards from a child's-eye view. The end-result is an engrossing and extremely powerful film of a single event, without one word of voiceover commentary.
Riefenstahl succeeds in communicating the faultless organization of mass pageantry, and most of all the god-like effect of Hitler on his audiences. The spell builds relentlessly, though after 90 minutes the modern viewer is likely to be mesmerized by yet another band of goose-stepping men marching in faultless precision in dazzling uniforms, filmed in meticulous detail.
The 2010 release from Simply Home Entertainment (ASIN: B003O2KQGE with a sepia-tan image of Riefenstahl crouching behind a huge telescopic camera bottom-right and the tag-line "The banned masterpiece of Nazi Cinema") is an excellent package. The print is sharp and clear, with - considering the age of the film - superb sound. Subtitles are offered in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Norwegian via an easy-to-navigate menu. The subs are thoughtfully executed, easy to read and do not intrude too much into the film image. Extras include short films of the Nazi Party Nuremberg Rallys from 1935, 1936, 1937 & 1938 as cinema-news items, some with a Brit-English voiceover, and 4 different scene-selection options.
Let me say at the outset that I don't work for, or represent, Synapse films in any way. I've never had any commercial dealings with them. And I don't get a rake-off, or anything else, from them.
But I'm puzzled by some of reviews for this Special Edition produced by Synapse Films. There are many editions of 'Triumph of the Will'. Most are terrible - technically so bad as to be unwatchable. But the Synapse Special Edition I bought, which was issued in 2001, is something different. As it says on the cover it's a "brand new windowedboxed digital transfer from a 35mm fine grain film". The quality is good - the best I've seen of this movie. Ok, it's not as perfect as the best Hollywood films, but there's little to complain about.
My special edition contains the original German language with newly translated removable English subtitles. There's also an audio commentary, which you can turn on and off, by the historian Dr Anthony R. Santoro. This is a model of what a commentary should be. He avoids any enthusiam for the Nazis, or tiresome moralising. He just presents us with the facts and contributes considerably to understanding what's going on in the film. It's a real bonus and will help any student studying the period.
There's also a Leni Riefenstahl short film 'Day of Freedom' which is admitedly technically poor.
As I say my Synapse Special Edition was issued in 2001. What we're reviewing here is a later version remastered in 2006. This updated version has slightly better picture quality. It's been digitally cleaned-up more and has a new cover.
SO IS THE 2006 EDITION ON SALE HERE, WHICH IS BETTER THAN THE ONE I BOUGHT, A GENUINE SYNAPSE PRODUCT OR SOME ROGUE PIRATE EDITION?
The reason I ask is because of the virulent opinions expressed by some reviewers. Some tell you this 2006 edition is the worst they've ever seen - technically so poor you should avoid buying it at all costs.
Is this true?
One way to find out is to look up this Synapse edition, which is an American import, on the Amazon site in the United States. There you'll find many more reviews. And guess what? Many say this is a good edition - the best they've seen. One person says, 'The DVD transfer is magisterial. Clean, sharp...And, as good a sound as one can ever expect.' Another says: 'Technically a wonderful transfer, pictures are of a very good quality...'
A third person remarks:- 'The DVD transfer of both the audio and visuals is astonishing in its clarity. In fact, it was so vivid, when the pizza man knocked on my door during the opening credits, I nearly hid in the basement.'
A fourth says:- 'The Synapse DVD Special Edition surpassed all expectations...this DVD is visually very crisp and sharp and the audio quality is fine. The DVD appears to be produced from an excellent original film print...This Special Edition is good as it gets.'
A fifth says:- 'The resolution is excellent to the degree that you can see the follicles in a close-up of Hitler's face. Unlike many similar documentaries of questionable quality, this DVD allows the viewer to appreciate facial expressions, uniform insignia, and other detail.'
Still unconvinced?...Then look up this edition on Amazon's Canadian site. There you'll find a similar reaction from viewers.
One person says this DVD is 'priceless. The narration is super...' A second agrees:- 'Very cleaned up and well done...'
A third adds:- 'I bought the Special Edition DVD. The quality of this black and white film is the best I have ever seen.'
A fourth says:- 'This DVD was recommended as the best version available for this film. It is...Sound is good. Everything is clear.'
Another admirer remarks:- 'TOTW has been lovingly and painstakingly restored here in a digital edition that should be a staple of any serious movie library or classroom film course. For years the only way to see the movie was in blotchy, multiple-generation interpositives that reduced the film's compositions and shots to mud. The veneer of decades of abuse and age have been removed with this edition. This is the first time the film has been seen anywhere nearly close to its original condition in a long time. For that reason alone this disc gets five stars.'
You can easily access Amazon's Canadian and US sites by clicking on the words at the bottom of this page.
Plainly many people who are buying this DVD from Amazon in Canada and the United States think it's good. So what's happening?
Is a bad quality pirate version of the 2006 Synapse edition upsetting UK customers?
Or have reviews for bad editions got mixed up with the good so the good are now being rubbished? You'll notice that some reviews - identical reviews - appear several times rubbishing various editions from different companies.
Or are some people trying to prevent UK customers from buying this controversial movie for political reasons? Are they rubbishing it technically in the hope they can stop people buying it when they have different motives?
One way to solve the problem is for people to name the company that produced their DVD in their reviews. If people do that their reviews will help customers avoid bad editions. At the moment things are all over the place.
UPDATE:- Synapse is working on a new Blu-ray edition for 2012.
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Should be shown to all history and film/media students.