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Leni Riefenstahl

Picture Leni Riefenstahl
Foto: Alexander Binder (1888-1929)

1902 - 2003

The actress Leni Riefenstahl belongs to one of the most fascinating but at the same time most controversial personalities of the 20th century. 

She began her artistic career as a dancer after she defied the oppositon of ther family. She took ballet lesson at the Russian ballet in Berlin and she studied modern dancing with Mary Wigman. Her first dancing performance followed in 1923. 
After performances at home and abroad her ambitious intention to devote her life to the dancing was finished because of a knee injury.

When she saw the movie "Der Berg des Schicksals" in the cinema, she became involved completely to the world of the mountains. She wanted to experience this sight personally. She met the actor Luis Trenker and director Arnold Fanck who was interested in Leni Riefenstahl. As a result he wrote a script called "Der heilige Berg" (26) in which Leni Riefenstahl impersonated her first leading role.

After the "Der heilige Berg" Leni Riefenstahl became a demanded actress. She wasn't oversensitive and found her way in the rough scenery of the cold mountains extremely well. She climbed peaks, was skiing and defied the most adverse circumstances. The mountain movie became her great domain.
In the following years she appeared in box-office hits like "Der grosse Sprung" (27), "Die weisse Hölle vom Piz Palü" (29), "Stürme über dem Montblanc" (30), "Der weisse Rausch" (31) and "S.O.S. Eisberg" (33).

For "Das blaue Licht" (32) she directed a movie for the first time, a field where she should go down in history during the time of the National Socialists.
She realised her first documentary "Der Sieg des Glaubens" (33) in 1933, it followed "Triumpf des Willens" (35) about the Nuremberg party conferences of the NSDAP and finally her masterpiece "Olympia" (36-38), in which she spellbound the audience with impressive pictures and slow-motion shots.

Leni Riefenstahl was exposed to reproaches after the war because of her works between 1933 and 1945. Iowever in the denazification  procedures she was graded as a "hanger-on" or "not affected".

Leni Riefenstahl didn't have great successes after the war. It lasted till 1973 when she published several large sized photo volumes about the Nuba tribe in Sudan. Her works as a photographer attracted great attention
In the following years she became a very esteemed photographer who besides the subjects in Africa also captured the underwater world with her camera.

She refused her consent to a filming of her live which was planned by the actress and director Jodie Foster but you can suppose that in the near future there will be a cinematic biography about Leni Riefenstahl.

Other movies with Leni Riefenstahl (Actress, Director):
Das Schicksal derer von Habsburg (28) Tag der Freiheit! - Unsere Wehrmacht (35) Tiefland (40-53)