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Triumph of The Will - film by Leni Riefenstahl - Research Paper Example

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Triumph of the Will or Triumph des Willens is a documentary film by Leni Riefenstahl, which archives the sixth Nazi Party Congress held in September 1934 in Nuremberg, where more than 700,000 Nazi supporters had gathered to hear their leaders speak…
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Download file to see previous pages The film that was purportedly made under Hitler’s instructions (his name appears in the titles) contains extracts of speeches delivered by the Nazi leaders and includes speeches by Hitler that are intermixed with footage of the gathered supporters. The main theme of this documentary was to instill a belief amongst the viewers that Germany would return as a super power under Hitler’s able leadership. Despite the director Riefenstahl’s claims that the film was a documentary, after its release in 1935, it was held as more of propaganda film and was considered as one of the best propaganda films made in the history of cinematography.2 The techniques used in the movie like creating distorted images using a long focus lens, moving cameras, use of aerial photography, and the innovative mix of cinematography with music (a new and revolutionary concept at that time) turned it into one of the greatest films ever made.3 The film won many awards in Germany and in other parts of the world, the US, and it continues to influence documentaries and films even in the twenty-first century.4 This research paper explores the various facets of the movie, examines the concepts of art, documentary and propaganda, and analyses what transforms a documentary into a propaganda film. It will review various available literatures to derive that this film, despite claims by the director, is a documentary propaganda that attempted at portraying the Third Reich in a positive light. Discussion Films used as a popular medium for propaganda Propaganda manifests itself in various ways and during the years prior to WWII (1930s) its shape was framed by the place where it occurred, that is, Germany or the UK (the two main powers during the WW era). This is evident in the movies Night Mail by Harry Watt and Basil Wright, and Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl that revealed various ways in which propaganda can be used to influence viewers. Propaganda has a negative outlook from an overall perspective, given its adverse effect on mass viewers as well as individual audiences, which is evinced even in the 21st century. The term by itself tends to carry a disagreeable connotation; however, propaganda (under any conditions) can be classified as good or unpleasant depending on the benefits of the cause being portrayed through it and the degree of correctness of the information that is being relayed. In this context, it is interesting to note what Barnays wrote in his essay, “In itself, the word “propaganda” has certain technical meanings which, like most things in this world, are ‘neither good nor bad but custom makes them so.’”5 He defined the process as “a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group…This practice of creating circumstances and of creating pictures in tem minds of people is very common…Sometimes the effect on the public is created by a professional propagandist, sometimes by an amateur deputed for the job. The important thing is that it is universal and continuous; and in its sum total it is regimenting the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments the bodies of its soldiers.”6 Propaganda, which through the different eras were used to "to produce and spread fertile messages that, once sown, will germinate in large human cultures,”  took in a new form in 20th century, where propaganda were used mainly by the ruling political orders and desire to pass information that would “sway relevant groups of people in order to accommodate their agendas.”7After the Lumiere brothers (1896) successfully used a film for propaganda, it became a popular tool for the various state governments and other non-state actors ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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