Films by Leni Riefenstahl


FILMOGRAPHY: Leni Riefenstahl

“They kept asking me over and over again whether I was having a romance with Hitler. ‘Are you Hitler’s girlfriend?’ I laughed and answered the same way each time: ‘No, those are false rumors. I only made documentaries for him…” — Leni Riefenstahl, about her 1938 US tour, in A Memoir

Considering her influence and notoriety, it’s surprising to learn that, as a director, Leni Riefenstahl only made a total of eight films! But several of those are notable cinematic landmarks. The documentaries, Triumph of the Will and Olympia, set new standards for filmmaking.

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David B. Hinton’s The Films of Leni Riefenstahl examines her body of work. Buy this book

Actress, Director, Writer
Leni Riefenstahl was certainly versatile. She danced, acted, wrote, and directed. Later in life she successfully took up still photography. But more than anything, she is remembered for her directing talent. Although she also made fictional feature films, critics consider her documentaries her true masterpieces.

Although she shot Triumph des Willens for Hitler and the Nazis, there is no doubt that the film is a groundbreaking work of art. Olympia, her amazing record of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, is less propaganda and much more a paean to athletes and the aesthetics of sports competition. Many of the pioneering techniques she used for that film (cranes, tracking rails, slow-motion, multiple cameras) are still used for contemporary Olympic and sports TV coverage. Both films also required the masterful management of large film teams — a feat that would be highly challenging even today, with much more advanced technology.

The Nazi Filmmaker
Leni Riefenstahl was a willing accomplice in the horrors of the Nazi era. Although she never really admitted it, she largely ignored the suffering and persecution that Hitler and his henchmen caused. But like composer Richard Wagner (an anti-Semite), her talent is undeniable. We don’t need to let her off the hook for her admiration of the Nazis while appreciating her cinematic achievements.

FILMS AS DIRECTOR
Das blaue Licht | The Blue Light (1932)
Riefenstahl also plays the lead role as the mysterious Junta in this mystical drama. DVD > Buy The Blue Light

Der Sieg des Glaubens | Victory of the Faith (1933)
A documentary of the 1933 Nazi party rally.

Tag der Freiheit – Unsere Wehrmacht | Day of Freedom – Our Armed Forces (1935)
A documentary glorifying the Nazi Wehrmacht (armed forces) when the Nazis reintroduced the military draft.

Triumph des Willens | Triumph of the Will (1935)
Riefenstahl’s documentary masterpiece, filmed during the 1934 Nazi rally in Nuremberg, shows both her mastery of propaganda and the cinematic arts. DVD > Buy Triumph of the Will

Olympia I – Fest der Völker | Olympia I – Festival of Nations (1938)
Part One of Riefenstahl’s monumental documentary of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. DVD > Buy Olympia I & II (2-disc set)

Olympia II – Fest der Schönheit | Olympia II – Festival of Beauty (1938)
Part Two of Riefenstahl’s monumental documentary of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. DVD > Buy Olympia I & II (2-disc set)

Tiefland | Lowlands (1954)
Riefenstahl directs and stars in this drama, filmed in 1940-1941 but not finally edited until 1954. It was Riefenstahl’s unsuccessful attempt to restart her cinematic career after the war. She later faced charges of casting gypsies from Nazi concentration camps in this film.
DVD > Buy Tiefland

Impressionen unter Wasser | Underwater Impressions (2002)
This underwater documentary by Riefenstahl, released shortly before her death, was her plea to preserve the great coral reefs.

FILMS AS ACTRESS
Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit | Ways to Strength and Beauty (1925)
Riefenstahl appears as a dancer in her first film.

Der heilige Berg | The Holy Mountain (1926)
Riefenstahl plays Diotoma in this Alpine drama.
DVD > Buy The Holy Mountain

Der große Sprung | The Big Jump (1927)
Riefenstahl plays Gita in this drama directed by Arnold Fanck.

Das Schicksal derer von Habsburg (1928)
Riefenstahl plays Maria Vetsera in this drama.

Die weiße Hölle von Palü | The White Hell of Piz Palu (1929)
Riefenstahl plays Maria Maioni in this Alpine drama directed by Arnold Fanck.
DVD > Buy The White Hell of Piz Palu

Stürme über Mont Blanc | Storm Over Mont Blanc (1930)
Riefenstahl plays Hella Armstrong in this Alpine thriller directed by Arnold Fanck. DVD > Buy Storm Over Mont Blanc

Der weiße Rausch | The White Frenzy (1931)
Riefenstahl snowshoes her way through white expanses.

Das blaue Licht | The Blue Light (1932)
Besides directing, Riefenstahl also plays the lead role as the mysterious Junta in this mystical drama. DVD > Buy The Blue Light

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Get SOS Iceberg on DVD.

SOS Eisberg | SOS Iceberg (1933)
Riefenstahl appears in both the German and English versions — as Ellen Lawrence and Hella (German). Filmed on location in Greenland.
(See DVD cover on right.)

DVD > Buy SOS Iceberg

Tiefland | Lowlands (1954)
Riefenstahl directs and stars in this drama, filmed in 1940-1941 but not finally edited until 1954. It was Riefenstahl’s unsuccessful attempt to restart her cinematic career after the war. She later faced charges of casting gypsies from Nazi concentration camps in this film.

DVD > Buy Tiefland

Back | Leni Riefenstahl

Related Pages
AT THE GERMAN WAY

RIEFENSTAHL IN PRINT AND ON DVD

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