At the interface between “Women’s Day”, the Olympic Games in London and the request to show “a completely different film from the last one” lies the fascinating and infamous documentary film, arguably one of the greatest sports films ever produced – Leni Riefenstahl’s

OLYMPIA – FEST DER VÖLKER (FESTIVAL OF NATIONS) (Part 1)(1938, 100 min., dir. Leni Riefenstahl, b/w, English version)

DATE: 13 AUGUST

TIME: 5.00 p.m.

VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing, 1st floor, German Programme, Media Room F251)

And next Monday:

OLYMPIA – FEST DER SCHÖNHEIT (FESTIVAL OF BEAUTY) (Part 2)

(1938, 100 min., dir. Leni Riefenstahl, b/w, English version)

DATE: 20 AUGUST

TIME: 5.00 p.m.

VENUE: Howard College, MTB West Wing, 1st floor, German Programme, Media Room F251)

About the film:
Olympia is a 1938 film by Leni Riefenstahl documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. The film was released in two parts: Olympia 1. Teil — Fest der Völker (Festival of Nations) and Olympia 2. Teil — Fest der Schönheit (Festival of Beauty). It was the first documentary feature film of the Olympic Games ever made. Many advanced motion picture techniques, which later became industry standards but which were groundbreaking at the time, were employed — including unusual camera angles, smash cuts, extreme close-ups, placing tracking shot rails within the bleachers, and the like. The techniques employed are almost universally admired, but the film is controversial due to its political context. Nevertheless, the film appears on many lists of the greatest films of all-time, including Time magazine’s “All-Time 100 Movies.”

Noted American film critic Richard Corliss observed in Time that “The matter of Riefenstahl ‘the Nazi director’ is worth raising so it can be dismissed. [I]n the hallucinatory documentary Triumph of the Will… [she] painted Adolf Hitler as a Wagnerian deity… But that was in 1934–35. In [Olympia] Riefenstahl gave the same heroic treatment to Jesse Owens…” (www.wikipedia.org/wiki/file:olympia)

On the surface, the film appears to be a very well made sports film, depicting outstanding athletic accomplishments by many individuals and teams from throughout the world. However, as Germany’s intentions became clearer in the period before World War II, critics became more and more suspicious that the actual motive for producing “Olympia” was political promotion: Nazi propaganda. Kracauer (1947) stated, “To be sure, all Nazi films were more or less propaganda films—even the mere entertainment pictures which seem to be remote from politics” (p. 275). To date, no one has been able to uncover substantive evidence proving that the sole intention of producing “Olympia” was to create propaganda. There are, however, many hints that at least part of the German government’s purpose in supporting “Olympia” was to promote the positive (as perceived by the Nazis) principles of National Socialism to the world. (Read more: https://www.thesportjournal.org/article/leni-riefenstahls-olympia-brilliant-cinematography-or-nazi-propaganda)

Read more about Leni Riefenstahl: https://womenshistory.about.com/od/riefenstahl/a/riefenstahl_2.htm

 

ALL WELCOME!

 
For more details please contact:
Dr Marion Pape
Head, German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Durban, 4041
Email: papem@ukzn.ac.za
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380
Fax: 0027-31-260 1242

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