Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Bernhard Minetti, Leni Riefenstahl, Aribert Wäscher, Karl Skraup, Maria Koppenhöfer
Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Set in early 20th century Germany and Spain, a melodrama about a dancer who becomes the romantic bone of contention between a humble shepherd and an imperious marquis. A gypsy dancer played by Leni Reifenstahl herself.... more »
Beautiful, yet not her best
J. Michael | Now Born | 09/28/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the 1896 Catalan play and the 1903 German opera, Leni Reifenstahl brings the story of love, lust and class warfare in Spain (actually Catalonia) to the silver screen. Although the film bears all the lush and romantic trademarks of Riefenstahl's directorial style, and I could never tire of_seeing_a Leni Riefenstahl film, the story of "Tiefland" just didn't reach me on the deeper emotional level that "The Blue Light" or even "Triumph of the Will" did. Although beautifully filmed, and impressive in its individual parts, for me the story did not cohere into a satisfying whole. Still, it's well worth watching."
What Did You Do In the War, Mommy?
Garman Lord | 01/30/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To many people's expectations, Leni Riefenstahl's honest answer to such a question would have to be "spent it as Hitler's bitch." According to Leni herself, however, nothing could be farther from the truth. Leni and Hitler admired each other, but strictly as intellectual friends and fellow artists, other than which the relationship was entirely platonic, by tacit mutual agreement. The reward of Hitler's admiration was that, whenever Leni challenged Hitler's views or said something he didn't like, especially toward the end, Hitler would merely pout, dismiss her from his circles and shun her for a time, rather than shipping her off to a concentration camp. Leni's haters, who are legion, dismiss all this, of course, and call her a liar. Her account, however, seems credible enough, at least to me. If Leni were a proper liar, after all, she would surely have said she secretly despised Hitler, kissed all the right ideological rings and tried to get herself on the side of the historical angels, right? Instead, it seems rather as if Leni's detractors don't really hate her for lying, they hate her for telling the truth.
For us, who live in a country whose last significant experience of home front warfare was in 1865, war tends to be a rather mythical, generally misunderstood business. In other countries, some relatively small percentage of the population marches off to war, another even smaller percentage stays home and runs the country and the war politically, and the great mass of the general population, at least until their national borders are broached, mainly just tries to get up every morning and go about their regular business as if war and all it portended wasn't really happening. What Leni did during the war, by all accounts, was go about her business, mainly spending it trying to make the movie she had always wanted to make in the middle of an avalanche of Allied bombs. That movie was "Tiefland" (Flatland.)
Viewing Tiefland today, we can easily imagine Leni's logistic difficulties. The parts of it she could control are, as usual, beautifully done; the scene selections, framing and camera work are consummate, occasionally breathtaking, works of art. As to what she couldn't completely control, well... such are the fortunes of war. Leni was lucky enough to find a German soldier, a handsome talented amateur, for the perfect male lead. For the female lead, an ingenue role, preferably calling for a gifted beautiful teenage dancer, no one could be found. Leni ended up forced to tackle the role herself... at age forty. No sooner was the footage wrapped, however, then Leni's country was invaded and overun, her worldly effects confiscated and herself bounced round endlessly from one prison camp to another, one collaboration/Denazification hearing and war trial to another, a process that took years before her name was finally cleared of all the accusations variously and inevitably leveled against a German of her international celebrity. It was 1950 before Leni ever got to see a viewing of the film she had spent so many years trying to shoot... and when she finally got to see it, she was horrified. Whatever the film's inevitable deficiencies, the thing about it that appalled Leni most painfully was her own performance. At forty years old, still beautiful despite war's and film work's hardships, and still a fine dancer, Leni was obviously anything but an ingenue, and totally miscast for the role.
Notwithstanding, it's still a great movie, and my friends and I who got together specially to view it enjoyed it enormously. One can only guess about all the great movies Leni Riefenstahl never got to make, and how things might have been, had a movie maker of her genius happened to be born in Hollywood, rather than WWII Germany.