1930s Triumph of the Will (1934)

Published on November 5th, 2012 | by Chris

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Triumph of the Will (1934)

Triumph of the Will (1934)With the election coming up (ha!) I figured it was about time I finally got around to witnessing Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda masterwork, Triumph of the Will .

Well, I have to say I was somewhat underwhelmed.  Honestly, I had heard about this film, and how it was such a groundbreaking and heinous piece of propaganda, this and that....  But, I don't know, really.  I wasn't completely shocked or stunned, or anything like that.  The lead-in I read went something like "shows how Hitler came to put the people of Germany under his spell" or whatever.  I guess I was expecting it to be a whole lot more, I don't know, sinister or something.

Don't misunderstand, the bits of this that do include Hitlers speeches and those of his officials are, well, exactly what you'd expect them to be.  "Germany is great, hail the Fuhrer, blah blah."  In all of its self-glorifying madness, which we wouldn't really come to understand fully until after the war.  (Hindsight being 20/20 and all that.)  Yes its despicable, yes you want to just reach in there and smack each and every one of them.  But its all rather textbook at this point in history.

Also, I didn't see, in this film, so much how he came to put Germany under his spell, but only that it was.  The endless shots of people saluting and cheering and scrambling to get a view of this loon.....  That's what I saw.  Maybe it was an infectious sort of thing, "oh everyone else is doing it, I should too..."  I don't know, I wasn't there.  I just didn't see the precursor here, only the end result.

But, put aside all of that for a minute, what it all meant, and lets look at this piece of film from another angle.

This is really an artfully composed and pretty darned impressive piece of film.  You have to wonder if some of these events were specifically staged for this movie.  Such as the speeches and gathering at the stadium.

A few scenes, in particular, strike me as very odd.  Namely the "dark" ones.  The scenes with the night-time meetings and the bonfires, with the banners.... while still very artfully done, its well, just creepy.  Bordering on the sinister in imagery, but never really in rhetoric.

Truthfully, the only reason you should *want* to see this movie, is if you're a) interested in film history, b) interested in propaganda history, or c) forced to see it as part of a class in either or both a) and b).  Or, of course, d) which is as a lesson in film-making.  Not so much from a content viewpoint (I sure as hell hope not!) but from a composition take.

I'm actually not going to rate this movie.  Why not? Because while I have to give Riefenstahl ample credit for creating a nice-to-look-at visually breathtaking piece of film (alone in this respect it would get high marks), the actual content precludes me from putting any sort of stock behind it.  at all.  I'm just not going there.

Oh, the hell with it.  Here's the entire showing of Triumph of the Will  I would say enjoy, but it is a little bit uncomfortable.  For history's sake.

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Description

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...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio:
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: Ryko Distribution
Manufacturer: Synapse Films
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Hermann Goering
  • Rudolf Hess
  • Werner von Blomberg
  • Werner von Fritsch

Features

  • This documentary of the Sixth Nazi Party Congress at, ironically enough, Nuremberg, is a frightening example of powerful film propaganda. It helped launch Hitler into power and its sweeping style was later used by American director Frank Capra for his war documentaries. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DOCUMENTARIES Rating: NR Age: 654930305294 UPC: 654930305294 Manufactur

Reviews

Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

189 of 196 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This film has been defaced to assert copyright, December 26, 2015
By 
Stephen W. Worth (Hollywood USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
2015 BLU-RAY REVIEW: Triumph of the Will is a public domain film. It belongs to everyone. But Synapse and Film Preserve Ltd has attempted to assert copyright over it by inserting logo bugs in the corner of the frame every ten minutes, and burning in "explanatory subtitles" over the top throughout the film. This movie is very important to the history of film, not because it is a "Nazi film", but rather because Riefenstahl was a brilliant cinematographer. Each and every cut in the film is masterfully composed and beautifully lit. However with the constant barrage of type and logos over the top, it's impossible to follow the visual flow of the film.

The film transfer and sound quality is excellent, but this blu-ray version has been rendered unwatchable by constant graphic intrusions. When I first tried to screen it, I couldn't believe that anyone would intentionally deface it like this. Surely the overwritten text was intended to be able to be turned off and... Read more
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70 of 75 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A historically important film finally getting an HD release BUT Synapse have made a horrible mess of it by enforcing descriptive, December 28, 2015
By 
P. White (Cambridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This SHOULD have been a landmark title. A historically important film finally getting an HD release BUT Synapse have made a horrible mess of it by enforcing descriptive text on the screen at all times that veers from useful (occasionally) to identifying Adolf Hitler every time he appears. It's incredibly intrusive and irritating and again, it can't be stopped. There's also a copyright protection watermark that appears every 20 minutes and malfunctioning subtitles on the supplementary film. I'm in the highly unfortunate position of having ordered this item internationally so I can't realistically return my blighted copy and it cost a LOT to import. Synapse, you should be utterly ashamed of yourselves and the various Blu-Ray forum discussions on this issue indicate that you are about to suffer a significant backlash for your stupidity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie production is rated by many as the greatest propaganda film ever made, March 29, 2016
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This review is from: Triumph of the Will (Amazon Video)
This movie production is rated by many as the greatest propaganda film ever made, and is a must-see for anyone having an interest in WW II. We can be well assured that Neville Chamberlain must have seen this film in 1935 or soon thereafter, and why he did not take Adolph Hitler much more seriously than he did, after watching it, remains a mystery for the ages. This propaganda film accurately and clearly portrayed, in 1935, the potential of the death and destruction that was soon to become historical fact!
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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



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