September 24, 2003
Steyn on Riefenstahl
Read it while you can: Mark Steyn's dissection of the late Leni Reifenstahl, the technically brilliant film maker who made Triumph of the Will.:
Her directing career died with the Third Reich. Had she been worse at making the Nazis look good, her insistence that she was no more than a hired hand might have been accepted. Instead, she found herself too toxic to get any project off the ground, until finally, at the age of 100, she got to release one last film, a simple undersea documentary. “Art is my life and I was deprived of it,” said Leni Riefenstahl. Tough. Working in the German film industry, she saw that happen early on to innumerable Jewish film-makers. She was neither one of that select group of Nazi fanatics committed to mass murder, nor merely of that vast contemptible majority of Germans too indifferent to evil to object to it. Whatever her disclaimers, she made evil look better than it had any right to: a cautionary tale in the art of film.
Absolutely. Read the whole thing.
Posted by Ideofact at September 24, 2003 11:35 PM
I think that a lot of film people are opportunists to the bone. They have to finance their films one way or another. Leni just happened to choose a disastrous time and place to be opportunistic, and when she was quite young too. So she had decades to repent.
I'm not sure that being young gets her a pass. I mean, it's not like Hitler made any attempt to hide his ideology or what he ultimately intended. To complain that art was taken away from her as punishment for helping such a monster, without acknowledging how her aiding and abetting of Hitler ended the lives of so many other artists -- Bruno Schulz, Pavel Haas, Hans Krasa, to name but three -- well, perhaps its better that she had to live so long and, one hopes, be reminded rather regularly of her own not negligible role in creating that horror.
I'm not defending her. I'm making the more pessimistic statement that lots of people who didn't do that, might have.