TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. (1935) ‘THE BANNED MASTERPIECE OF NAZI CINEMA’ REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hitler leni

LENI RIEFENSTAHL’S ‘TRIUMPH OF THE WILL’ OR ‘TRIUMPH DES WILLENS.’ (1935)

‘THE BANNED MASTERPIECE OF NAZI CINEMA’ REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘A devastatingly brilliant piece of film-making.’

HALLIWELL’S FILM GUIDE.

‘Technically brilliant.’

TIME OUT FILM GUIDE.

‘The Party is Hitler—and Hitler is Germany just as Germany is Hitler!’ Rudolf Hess.

‘It is our will that this state and this Reich shall endure through the coming millennia.’ Adolf Hitler.

‘As soon as our own propaganda admits so much as a glimmer of right on the other side, the foundation for doubt in our own right has been laid.’ Adolf Hitler.

We want to be a united nation, and you, my youth, are to become this nation. In the future, we do not wish to see classes and castes, and you must not allow them to develop among you. One day, we want to see one nation.’ Adolf Hitler.

‘The concept of labor will no longer be a dividing one but a uniting one, and no longer will there be anybody in Germany who will regard manual labor any less highly than any other form of labor.’ Adolf Hitler.

This is a much-praised and much-lauded piece of film-making, although you’ll find that its fans are quick to point out that their praise is all for the technical aspects of the film only.

Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s pet movie director- Hitler was a big movie fan- has certainly made a fantastic documentary, and all without benefit of much of the modern film-making paraphernalia of today which might possibly have made her mammoth task a bit easier.

On the other hand, critics are reluctant to praise the content of the movie for fear of appearing to be a Nazi sympathiser, so as I’ve said the critiques mostly just praise the lady’s undoubtedly superior technical prowess and nothing else.

The film is Ms. Riefenstahl’s record of the Nazi Party’s 1934 Nuremberg Rally or their ‘sixth Party Congress,’ as it’s referred to by Hitler in the film. As an exercise in film-making, it seems to have no equal, being regarded as one of the most outstanding documentaries ever made.

As an exercise in Nazi Party propaganda, however, it was never surpassed, not even by Leni Riefenstahl’s own film record of the 1936 Olympic Games, which were held in Berlin and which she immortalised in her two-years-in-the-making 1938 movie ‘Olympia.’

Never mind all the hype for now, though. I’m happy to just tell you what’s in the damn film, lol, just in case other reviewers confine themselves to going into transports of ecstasy about things like montage, camera angles and light, things which I confess I find a little boring myself. As a reviewer, I’m mainly interested in the more human element of things.

She first shows us Hitler’s plane in motion above the clouds en route to Nuremberg and, I must say, I do wonder how she managed to capture such fabulous images of life-above-the-clouds.

Hitler was the first leader of a country to travel from place to place within his country by aeroplane, a fact which already imbued him slightly with godlike-status. She knew what she was doing, this dame, filming him descending from the clouds like Zeus on a thunderbolt!

We then see Hitler travelling by open-topped car through the city of Nuremberg which, after the war, became home to the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, the exact opposite of a Party propaganda rally, if you like. For now, however, the city resounds to the heavens with cheers as Germany’s ‘saviour’ stands ramrod-straight in his open-topped car to greet his people.

The undisguised joy on the faces of the cheering crowds has to be seen to be believed. Right arms extended in the Nazi Party salute, men, women children and even babies are thrilled beyond words to catch a glimpse of their idol.

They carpet his path with flowers and reach out to touch him as if he’s Elvis Presley on tour or something. Housewives and young women look like they’re getting ready to fling their flannel drawers at him, which is kind of hilarious. A less likely-looking matinee idol would be hard to find.

We see some lovely aerial views of Nuremberg, which must have been a very beautiful city back then with its gorgeous old buildings and cathedral spires. Then we’re treated to the sight of probably hundreds of thousands of young shirtless Aryan males camping out waiting for the rally to begin.

They engage in healthy open-air Aryan pursuits such as wrestling and athletic-type games while they wait. Could they be any blonder or more healthily, aggressively Aryan? I doubt it, lol. Hitler would certainly approve.

There’s a huge amount of marching in formation in the film. If there was one thing the Nazis knew how to do well, it was marching in formation. Always a useful skill when you’re setting out to establish your One Thousand Year Reich.

The SA (Sturmabteilung)- The Night Of The Long Knives had already happened by then- and the SS (Schutzstaffel) are in evidence during the marches and there are thousands upon thousands of standard bearers of Nazi emblems and flags with swastikas on them, marching, marching, interminably marching. 

The Wehrmacht- the German military- are in there somewhere too. It must have been a golden age of lucrative industry for the manufacturers of swastika flags and other Nazi Party memorabilia. Exit through the gift shop much…

The marchers goose-step past the watching Hitler with their arms extended and heads turned to the right to see their Fuhrer. That kind of thing, doing three or four contradictory movements at once, is hard to do. They look like machines marching in unison, especially with their legs going a mile a minute like that like something out of a cartoon.

When the speeches get underway, Hitler’s toady Rudolf Hess, who later disgraced himself by flying off to Scotland without Hitler’s permish to try to broker a peace between the Reich and Britain, introduces Hitler with lots of lavish, nonsense clichés such as ‘Germany is Hitler and Hitler is Germany.’

Very, erm, intense, Hess, you smirking jackass you. He leads the crowd in a rapturous chorus of ‘Sieg heils!’ so loud that it probably woke God himself up from his nap. I’d describe the toadying Hess as being the Wayland Smithers to Hitler’s Mr. Burns, except that that would be an insult to the characters from THE SIMPSONS that we know and love.

Hitler talks at great length about Germany’s youth and how they’re the future of Germany. That was true at any rate, I suppose. Thousands of these ‘Jugend’ obligingly cheer back at him with the terrifying light of fanaticism in their eyes.

‘We want to be a united nation, and you, my youth, are to become this nation. In the future, we do not wish to see classes and castes, and you must not allow them to develop among you. One day, we want to see one nation.’

Then he goes on to talk about how no-one belongs to the Reich who is not prepared to work their asses off for said Reich, doing jobs such as farming the land and building the Autobahns.

Cue a couple of hundred young men wielding shovels, all echoing his words back at him with adoration and ferocity. The rallies wouldn’t have done the shovel industry any harm at all, either. How fast can you deliver one million shiny new shovels, please?

Party luminaries such as the trench-coated Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and the portly Hermann Goering all get up to say a few words (or cupla focal as we say in Irish), but it’s mainly Hitler talking, banging on for hours while not seeming to say very much, if you know what I mean. He was really, really good at that.

He says generalised rubbish like ‘Germany is behind us, Germany is before us, Germany is beneath us,’ but I bet if you asked him if he had an actual plan of action for any specific problem that needed fixing or issue that needed addressing, he’d have said: ‘A plan? Oh dear me, no, who needs a plan when you have rhetoric, tons and tons of rhetoric?’

In many cases, Hitler left it to his staff to come up with the plans of action to carry out his wishes. Look, for example, at the way he left it largely to the odious little bespectacled Himmler, pictured here in the film in his long black overcoat, to work out the details of the Final Solution.

Infamous Jew-hater Julius Streicher gets his spoke in here too, by the way: ‘A people that does not protect its racial purity will perish.’ Leni Riefenstahl declared after the war that she was unaware of Hitler’s ‘genocidal’ or ‘anti-Semitic’ policies. I ain’t sayin’ nuthin.’

The rally looks spectacular at night, with the torchlight parades and processions, the fireworks lighting up the blackness of the night sky, the always rousing drumbeats and stirring music and the artificial mist-machines making the place look mystical and shrouded in mystery and glamour. The 1934 Nazi Party rally passed into mythology largely due to Riefenstahl’s superb camera-work. Amazing what you can do with a bit of smoke and mirrors.

You’d be hugely attracted to it all if you didn’t know about the worm that sat at the heart of the Third Reich’s inwardly rotten apple, devouring it from the inside. Movietone News would broadcast footage of this and other Nazi Party Rallies around the world.

The ones featuring clear evidence of Germany’s total re-armament- the tanks and the planes of the Luftwaffe- must have been terrifying for England and the other countries worried by the rise of Nazism.

There were limitations placed on Germany’s army, navy and air-force in the Versailles Treaty of post-World War One Europe, but Hitler pretty much tore that up. He was a law unto himself, that fella. I don’t know why we even bothered having a Versailles Treaty if Hitler was just going to use it to wipe his backside on.

Well anyway, we know how the story ends, don’t we? Hitler was only in power from 1933 to 1945, a mere twelve years in the scheme of things, but he and his precious Party managed to do quite a lot of damage in this short time, with their concentration camps and their plots to wipe out the Russians and wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. Certainly there were six million Jews who never lived to see the post-war Europe. That’s Hitler’s real legacy, but hey, thanks to one Leni Riefenstahl, he’s got this amazing film too.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL. (2016) A DOCUMENTARY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hitler rise and fall

HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL: THE MAN BEHIND THE MONSTER. (2016) A DOCUMENTARY BY STAN GRIFFIN. NARRATED BY CHRISTIEN ANHOLT. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It took me two nights to watch all two-hundred-and-seventy-eight minutes of this gripping documentary, which amounted to three episodes a night at forty-five minutes each. This was surprisingly manageable, especially as it was the weekend and I was bloody well due a little me-time, lol.

Anyway, the documentary does exactly what it says on the tin, charting Adolf Hitler’s life and- ahem- life’s work from his relatively humble beginnings to his meteoric rise to become ruler of Germany and the Nazi Party, before, well, you know. The war and stuff. All the stuff he did. You know what I mean. We’re not supposed to mention it…

Various Professors of History and assorted academics who’ve nearly all written books on Hitler sit around chatting to camera about what they’ve learned about Hitler over the years and, coupled with the little dramatisations and recreations with actors and actresses going on in the background, it all actually makes for rather thrilling viewing. Here for your delectation is my own interpretation of the facts as presented by HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL. A sort of ‘HITLER FOR DUMMIES,’ if you will.

Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria-Hungary to a civil servant father who brutalised him physically and whom Hitler despised utterly, and a mother who worshipped him but understandably couldn’t protect him from his father’s wrath.

When Alois Hitler- the Dad- passed away in 1903, I doubt if Hitler shed many tears, unlike at the death of his mother four years later, which devastated him. It was the first major blow of his life. Probably the next one was when he was rejected for Art School in Vienna.

Apparently he wasn’t good at drawing people, but wasn’t bad at all at sketching buildings. In fact, he had a lifelong obsession with architecture and was always dreaming up ideas for fabulous buildings and town centres in his mind.

During his last days in the Bunker, while Berlin burned around him and the Russians were within shelling distance of the Reich Chancellery, instead of making plans to save himself and his entourage or to broker a peace deal with the Allies, Hitler fiddled endlessly with a scale model of a town plan of Linz in Austria, which he planned to turn into a cultural capital ‘after the war.’ I wonder when was the exact moment at which he finally realised that there would be no ‘after the war’ for him and his Party…?

Anyway, his special talent was really for public speaking. Boy, could he talk. He could- and did- talk for Germany. After World War One, in which he rather startlingly won an Iron Cross for ‘bravery’ (I always think of him as a bit cowardly, actually), he turned to politics. His early days in the Nazi Party saw him cutting his oratorial teeth on the speeches he made to admiring Party members.

He started to develop his anti-Semitic views around this time and was a real asset to the Nazi Party, which by the way he didn’t ‘found’ but he did join it very early on, when it was still in its infancy.

There’s a disturbing image for you anyway, the Nazi Party as a chubby baby complete with rattle and bonnet being wheeled round the park in an antique stroller by a uniformed Nanny. ‘Take me once round the park, Smithers, I’m feeling fussy…!’

The failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 came next, in which Hitler and his pals, including General Ludendorff from WW1, sought to stage a coup that would ultimately challenge the government in Berlin. Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in the Putsch but served only one, getting out early for, ‘of all things, good behaviour…!’

During his time in Landsberg Prison, Hitler dictated his autobiography, MEIN KAMPF, to his adoring deputy Rudolf Hess. I said dictated, not dedicated, lol. I don’t know if the book ever had the benefit of proper editing but most historians agree that it’s a major snooze.

He waffles a lot in it about his ideas on race and suchlike. They’re not at all what you’d call liberal. Some form of ethnic cleansing is implied. It’s seemingly badly written and a crashing bore, but essential reading, the experts claim, if you want to understand where he got his nutty ideas from or the ‘reasoning’ behind them. I did take it out of the library once, but the endless blocks of dry-as-dust, unbroken-up text made me return it soon after, unread.

After Hitler’s early release from prison, he began work on rebuilding the Nazi Party, which had stood by him throughout his, by all accounts, reasonably cushy incarceration. (There were flowers on the table in that prison cell, ffs…!) It was the Great Depression of 1929 that proved to be the key to Hitler’s later success.

With America demanding back the money they’d loaned Germany to get back on her feet after the punitive terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was in trouble financially and ripe for some political agitation from Hitler and the Nazi Party.

A stable, healthy German economy was no use to Hitler. But the recession that followed the Crash of ’29 was the perfect environment for the Nazis to flourish, and flourish they did, by promising the German people the only two things they cared about at this time, ‘ARBEIT UND BROT,’ or ‘WORK AND BREAD.’ They even delivered on their promises sometimes.

The elections of 1932 saw Hitler coming second only to Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934), the elderly President of Germany, who died a mere two years later. Hitler was now becoming established as a political force to be reckoned with.

1933 was even better for Hitler, the funny little man with the toothbrush moustache, poor table manners and queer sense of sartorial style (the top hat and dog whip, seriously?).

He became Chancellor of Germany and, with the aforementioned death of the old President Hindenburg in 1934, Hitler made himself President as well as Chancellor and fixed things so that he couldn’t be removed from office. Dictatorship, anyone?

A lot of stuff happened between 1933 and the start of World War Two that we’ll try to get through quickly. Punitive laws were enforced against the Jews, coming to an explosive head- but by no means ending- on Kristallnacht or The Night Of Broken Glass (November 1938)during which Jewish shops were trashed and their synagogues burned.

In the Irish Jewish Museum here in Dublin, just as a matter of interest, they have on display a piece of a religious scroll saved from a burning synagogue on this terrible night. Hitler was apparently annoyed by the damage to some of Germany’s lovely old buildings during Kristallnacht. Oh dear. How careless of those naughty marauders to damage the buildings.

The Nazi Party brushed Germany’s racial ‘issues’ under the carpet for the duration of the 1936 Olympic Games, which were held in Berlin. Film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, who also incidentally filmed the Olympics, made a movie called TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, about one of the gigantic Nuremberg rallies, that captured all the terrifying glamour and spectacle so beloved of the Nazis. Hitler is represented as a god in this film, literally descending from the clouds in his little aeroplane, the first leader of a country to ever use air travel to his benefit.

During this period also, from 1933 to 1939, ‘enemies’ of the Nazi Party (like the chap who protested that his livelihood had been torn down to make way for lavish extensions to the Berghof, Hitler’s fabulous mountain retreat) were being sent to concentration camps, which already existed. Inmates taken there were supposed to undergo a sort of ‘re-nazification.’ Like the ‘re-Neducation’ in that TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode of THE SIMPSONS but, like, a million times less fun, obviously.

The dreaded camps were not yet the killing machines some of them ended up being later on when the ‘Final Solution,’ the extermination of the Jews, was properly underway. For now, they were mostly for communists and people who opposed the Nazi ideology. There were eyes and ears everywhere. It was a dangerous time to speak out against the Fuhrer or his Nazi Party.

Hitler became obsessed during this time with the idea of ‘Lebensraum,’ or living space, for the German people. He built up and re-armed the Army that had suffered restrictions as a result of the Versailles Treaty, a humiliating document that had basically ground Germany into the dirt, as Hitler saw it, for having caused World War One.

The reparations Germany had to pay after WW1 were brutally punitive. Hitler metaphorically tore up this hated treaty every time he marched his newly re-armed forces into a different country in yet another stunning land grab, and the people of Germany loved him for it.

He’d united Austria with Nazi Germany without the firing of a single shot. The Austrians welcomed Hitler and his cohorts with open arms and floral tributes. He was like a king when he rode in his car through the flower-strewn streets. It was one of his greatest moments.

Then came his acquisition of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, Neville Chamberlain and ‘Peace In Our Time,’ and then the ill-fated invasion of Poland which led to Britain and France declaring war on Germany, much to Hitler’s surprise. What do these assholes care about Poland, he was probably thinking, but care they did. It was jolly well a matter of principle, old boy. The war was very much a go…

France fell fairly quickly to the well-oiled Nazi machine. Nazi steamroller, more like. Britain, of course, held out staunchly to the end because Britons never, never, never shall be slaves, of course. Hitler unleashed the full force of the odious, fatly smiling Goering’s Luftwaffe on them but to no avail. Britain was not for turning…

Hitler spent much of the war teaching his beloved Alsatian dog Blondi to do tricks. He also enjoyed eating cake- Hitler, that is, not Blondi, although who knows, maybe the doggie did too- and so he consumed quite a lot of the stuff up in the gorgeous little Teahouse that formed part of his mountainside hideaway in the Berghof, where his long-term mistress Eva Braun resided.

Hitler should have been as fat as a fool, with all the cakes the film-makers show him putting away in this documentary. I got quite peckish for cake, actually, while watching this film, and so a packet of Jaffa cakes may or may not have been sacrificed to the common good on one of the nights…

Dr. Theodore Morell, Hitler’s doctor, gets a mention here as the doctor who put the Fuhrer on a cocktail of drugs to treat his various ailments, real or imagined. Hitler was something of a hypochondriac, but the drugs he was given probably far exceeded his need and would have almost certainly contributed to how divorced from reality he was by the end of the war.

America entered the war in 1941 after the Japanese shockingly attacked Pearl Harbour. Hitler is seen in the documentary film as not taking this news seriously enough. It was a disaster for him, however.

The Americans were mightily pissed off and would stay in the war until the bitter end, until they, in fact, were the victors along with Britain and Hitler’s most hated enemy, Russia. The threat of Bolshevism was as bad, to him, as the threat represented by the Jews.

Hitler’s invasion of Russia was an unmitigated disaster also, resulting in the deaths of millions of Russian soldiers and civilians and German soldiers. Fighting a war of that scale on two fronts was too much for one man, a man who by now wasn’t even living in the real world.

The Holocaust, the wholesale murder of the Jews of Europe in concentration camps, was in full swing by now, with Auschwitz in Poland at the ‘dead’ centre of the operation. The more catastrophic Hitler’s war became for Germany, the more the killing was speeded up, the killing he actually termed ‘humane’ because it was done by gassing rather than other, messier means.

Everyone wants to hear about the Bunker, of course, the ‘good stuff,’ lol, when Hitler moved battalions that no longer really existed around the map from one place to another during the daily situation reports that became more and more fraught. The war was lost. The jig was up. Hitler was pretty much the last person to take this admittedly unpalatable fact on board.

In his last couple of days, he marries Eva Braun, dictates his last Will and Testament to his secretary Traudl Junge and shoots himself while Eva bites down on a cyanide capsule on the couch beside him.

Nearby, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister and long-time toady Joseph Goebbels prepares to follow his Fuhrer even unto death, along with his wife Magda and their six children. Thus, with a gunshot and the hasty burning of two bodies in the Reichchancellery garden, endeth the Third Reich. There’s talk of a Fourth sequel but I don’t know, I think the franchise is pretty much played out, lol.

There’s some really fantastic footage of the players in this iconic real-life drama in HITLER: THE RISE AND FALL. I’d never seen a lot of the footage before and it was gob-smackingly clear and exciting to view.

The historians are pretty good too, my favourites being the super-enthusiastic Emma Craigie, author of HITLER’S LAST DAY: MINUTE BY MINUTE, which I’ve read and enjoyed, and also a chap by the name of Professor Richard Overy. Watch this if you’re a history fan. It’s top-notch stuff.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor