Saturday, December 15, 2007

Triumph of the Will (1934)

Dr. Anthony R. Santoro (Professor of History) narrates the film Triumph of the Will as part of the special features aspect of the DVD. It was presented as "The Document of the Reich Party Day 1934" which was a documentation of the ongoing Nuremburg Rallies from 1923 through 1938.

The whole film is composed of people saluting Hitler with the Nazi salute. Close to the beginning there is even a small girl around 3 years old that presents Hitler with some flowers and then salutes him from her mother's arms.
Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) is a filmed record of the 1934 Nazi Party Convention, in Nuremberg. No, it is more than just a record: it is an exultation of Adolf Hitler, who from the moment his plane descends from Valhalla-like clouds is visually characterized as a God on Earth. The "Jewish question" is disposed of with a few fleeting closeups; filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl prefers to concentrate on cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, and Hitler's climactic speech, all orchestrated, choreographed and illuminated on a scale that makes Griffith and DeMille look like poverty-row directors. It has been alleged that the climactic rally, "spontaneous" Sieg-Heils and all, was pre-planned according to Riefenstahl's specifications, the better to take full advantage of its cinematic potential. Allegedly, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels resented the presence and intrusion of a woman director, but finally had to admit that her images, achieved through the use of 30 cameras and 120 assistants, were worth a thousand speeches. Possibly the most powerful propaganda film ever made, Triumph of the Will is also, in retrospect, one of the most horrifying. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 120 mins
Triumph of the Will (1934)

Parts of the convention speeches I quoted below. I hope they give a feeling of what the rest of the world could have read in 1934.
Julius Streicher, Gauleiter of Upper Fanconia and Editor of "Der Sturmer" (The worst of them all, "Jew Hater")
A people that does not protect the purity of its race goes to seed!

Adolf Wagner
No revolution that seems to be permanent can lead to anything other than complete anarchy. So the world will not live at war. So also the people do not live on revolution.
Nothing on this earth that has lasted for thousands of years was assembled in mere decades. The largest tree also has the longest period of growth. What braves the centuries will be strong through the centuries.

Dr. Otto Dietrich, Reichsleiter and Reich Press Chief in Ministry of People Enlightenment and Propaganda
Truth is the foundation on which the power of the press stands in the world. And that it reports the truth about Germany is the only demand that we place on the foreign press.

Dr. Robert Ley, Reichleiter and Head of the German Labor Front
All our work must be dictated by a single thought-that the German worker be made an upright, proud and equally entitled national comrade.

Dr. Hans Frank, Reichs Minister of Justice and later Governor General of occupied Poland
(On tip of his toes.) As the leader of the German legal service, I can say that, clearly, the basis of the National Socialist State is the Nationalist Socialist Law Code. And for us, our highest leader is also the highest judge! We know ho sacred the principles of these laws are to our Fuhrer. These Reich laws can assure you, national comrades that you life and existence is safe in this National Socialist State of order, freedom and law.

Dr. Josef Goebbels, Reich Minister of People Enlightenment and Propaganda
May the bright flame of our enthusiasm never be extinguished. It alone gives light and warmth to the creative art of modern political propaganda. This comes from the depths of the people and from these depths of the people it must always again find its roots and its strength. It may be good to possess power based on strength but it is better to win and hold the heart of a people.
Of course this film was the epitome of what Nazism was. A film that I think that everyone should watch. One thing to remember was that for only a small 4 minute segment of the Military, the rest of the movie was about the "Party" even when marching in military style with weapons in hand.

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