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The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl back to product details

Worth watching
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written by kamapuaa October 8, 2004 - 12:47 PM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Amazing documentary - Leni Reifenstahl was a cute young thing who through natural intelligence and overwhelming commitment made it first as a movie starlet, then as a documentary filmmaker with one of the strongest personal visions any filmmaker has ever had. Jarringly enough, these documentaries came to be seen as the ultimate artistic representation of Nazi ideals - something she has spent the rest of her life defending, but not apologizing for.

Just the basics of her life bring up many of the big questions in art and morality - how responsible is the artist for the results of their art? Does art influence or merely reflect society? How much does the documentary filmmaker shape their subject? How much responsibility is given to those who work within an system, when the system is evil but pervasive?

These questions are enhanced by the figure of Leni Riefenstahl, who at 90 remained a compelling interview subject. She is unapologetic, occasionally casting herself as a victim, willing to address the issues, and even make the shockingly un-PC statement. She's also caught in lies, exaggerations, and inconsistincies, and is both willing and able to bully or stonewall the filmmakers when it serves her purposes.

All in all this is a three hour plus documentary that would be fascinating at twice the length. Additionally, the movie makes a strong case that at least "Olympia" should be back in print.

Who was Leni Riefenstahl?
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written by Misshaped April 6, 2004 - 7:59 PM PDT
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Did she make propaganda films? Can you be a filmaker, artist, etc. and divorce yourself from politics when you create art, commissioned by leaders of a nation? Are you (as an artist) responsible for what is done with your art after you have created it? Leni Riefenstahl states she was never a Nazi. She says she created documentaries ("Triumph of the Will" and "Olympia"), and not propaganda films. She denies there is fascist imagery in her films. Watching this movie will have you questioning all aspects of personal and artistic culpability.

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(Average 7.56)
110 Votes
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