"The Holy Mountain Leni Riefenstahl" & "The wonderful, horrible life of Leni R"
Date Listed 12/10/2016
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The Masters of Cinema SeriesExtensive 2001 restoration, 2 disc setThe Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993) by Ray Müller, 180-minsNew 2002 score by Aljoscha Zimmerman (Dolby 2.0 Stereo & Dolby 5.1)Original German intertitles with English subtitlesBooklet containing new essay by Doug CummingsTwo RSDL discs Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl; 22 August 1902 – 8 September 2003) was a German film director, photographer, actress and dancer widely known for directing the Nazi Party propaganda film Triumph of the Will. Riefenstahl’s prominence in the Third Reich, along with her personal association with Adolf Hitler, destroyed her film career following Germany's defeat in World War II, after which she was arrested but released without any charges.After her death, the Associated Press described Riefenstahl as an “acclaimed pioneer of film and photographic techniques” Der Tagesspiegel newspaper in Berlin noted, “Leni Riefenstahl conquered new ground in the cinema”. The BBC said her documentaries “were hailed as groundbreaking film-making, pioneering techniques involving cranes, tracking rails, and many cameras working at the same time”.The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (German: Die Macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl) is a 1993 German documentary film about the life of German film director Leni Riefenstahl, directed by Ray Müller.Riefenstahl was best known for her documentary film Olympia (1938), on the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and herNazi propaganda films, Der Sieg des Glaubens (1933), Triumph of the Will (1935), and Tag der Freiheit (1935), which are regarded by historians as among the greatest propaganda films of all time.The United States release of this film, in 1993, coincided with the publication of Riefenstahl's autobiography Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir (New York, 1993), as well as with her ninetieth birthday. The two releases are not unrelated. The Wonderful, Horrible life of Leni Riefenstahl was born from an idea of Riefenstahl herself, who, motivated by her old age and already working on her memoirs, decided to commission a documentary about her life.Concerned about being associated with the 'Nazi director', eighteen filmmakers declined the project, before Müller agreed to portray Riefenstahl in what ended up being a three-hour long documentary (three times its contract length).The length of the film is therefore the result of a decision by the director: Müller justifies it as an attempt to give a fair representation of Riefenstahl's life, which cannot be reduced to the 8 years she worked for the regime, but presents much more interesting stories and facts that are relevant to understand her personality. Showing more historical material about her life, according to Müller, also helps to compensate the strong image of herself that Riefenstahl tries to impose throughout the movie, giving the viewer a better chance to draw his/her own conclusions. The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl encapsulates a historical figure at the end of her life. Through this film, it is shown how Riefenstahl dealt with the repercussions of her early work.The film garnered a strong critical response. It currently has a 95% rating amongst critics cited on the Rotten Tomatoesfilm review website."This movie is fascinating in so many different ways: As the story of an extraordinary life, as the reconstruction of the career of one of the greatest of film artists, as the record of an ideological debate, as a portrait of an amazing old woman." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times"Consistently fascinating documentary... This very significant film is the fablelike story of a woman whose search for the ideal, not unlike Ms. Riefenstahl's search in a very different world, leads to disaster." Vincent Canby, New York Times
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