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Triumph of the Will (Special Edition)
Triumph of the Will
Special Edition
Actors: Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Werner von Blomberg, Werner von Fritsch
Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2001     2hr 0min

Triumph of the Will is one of the most important films ever made. Not because it documents evil--more watchable examples are being made today. And not as a historical example of blind propaganda--those (much shorter) movi...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Werner von Blomberg, Werner von Fritsch
Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Politics, Military & War
Studio: Synapse
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/17/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/1935
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1935
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

One of the Most Influential "Unseen" Movies Ever Made
Doc Sarvis | 05/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"TRIUMPH OF THE WILL has long been viewed through a dual perspective: It is both reviled by many for its glorification of Hitler, and at the same time praised for the masterful work of its director, the legendary Leni Riefenstahl (who at the time of this writing is still alive...I think she's over 100 by now). The truth is, it is all of that and more - a highly memorable, fascinating experience on several levels:1. Despite the subject matter, it must be acknowledged that this film does what it was made to do marvelously well: It is a masterpiece of the art of propaganda...somethng that is practiced every day by all governments, in advertising, and in all political campaigns - but never better than this. The film does an amazing job of tapping deep into the German psyche, with scenes of Nuremburg, youth, etc., and allusions to great Germans of the past, all designed to tug at the "volkish" national sentiment, then deftly superimposed with images of Hitler. Very crafty, but no different than what we see every day in our media-saturated world. 2. As a study of the early the Nazi era, it is invaluable. Regardless of what happened in the years that followed, TRIUMPH needs to be viewed as a statement of its own era, when none of the horrors had yet happened and many around the world still referred to the Nazi regime (which was then consolidating power and trying to reach the hearts and minds of the people) as "the German renaissance". The commentary track adds a fascinating "what happened to that Nazi?" perspective. 3. This film has become unbelievably influential (possibly because it is still required viewing in film schools); it is perhaps second only to THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN as the most visually quoted film in hstory. Just a few examples: The closing scene in STAR WARS, "Be Prepared" from THE LION KING, and especially the entrance of Commodus into Rome from GLADIATOR are all lifted directly from visuals in TRIUMPH. Even more common is the visual "homage" that directors sometimes subtly insert, such as the woman being tossed in the air from THE BIG LEBOWSKI (remember the kid at the beginning of TRIUMPH)? The list goes on and on. One certainly does not need to sympathize with the Nazis to appreciate this film. In fact, it is precisely because of what became of them that makes this early look so fascinating. Still, I would not call this "entertainment"; rather, this is a piece to study and analyze. Recommended for any student of history, sociology, mass media, or film."
Try to remember -- this movie wasn't made for YOU!
Thucydides 1 | USA | 10/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After slogging through a number of these reviews it is clear that most cannot see that we Twenty-First Century Americans were not the intended audience for this movie. The movie was intended to be a unifying morale-builder for the National Socialist Party in Germany, which had been in power only about a year when this movie was made.

From its loss of World War I until the NSDAP was elected to power in Germany in 1934, the people had suffered every kind of internecine mob warfare, illegal abuse and theft of whole portions of Germany at the hands of the French, and an economic catastrophe that made our American Depression look like a picnic by comparison.

This movie sought to persuade Germans (GERMANS!) that this dreadful misery was finally over and that the criminal Bolshevik traitors responsible for Germany's defeat in World War I, and all the residual woes, would be defeated once and for all. It must have been a most welcome message because as you watch the film you certainly don't get the impression that anyone had to beg the many thousands of Germans who attended the NSDAP rallies to stand up and cheer their hearts out.

If you speak and understand German, you'll have a much greater likelihood of being able to understand the impact of these rallies, and this film that celebrates them. For many who are not conversant in the German language or who know little about the actual history of the time besides what they were exposed to in American World War II films, the film is actually pretty boring after a while.

You sit there and watch one group of soldiers, police, or workers after another, marching and marching and marching. This is interspersed with speeches by Hitler and the other Party officals. From time to time you'll see interesting-looking people doing everyday things, some in costume, but mostly they're just talking, walking, eating, brushing their teeth, and so on. Be advised -- for those of you who expect the whole thing to be a stirring, gigantic SS parade with weapons bristling, be prepared to be disappointed. The last group of soldiers on parade are indeed the SS Leibstandarte Adolph Hitler, and they're marching to what was reputedly Hitler's favorite piece -- "Der Badenweiler". Remember to notice that they aren't even carrying rifles or bayonets....

Lastly, in my opinon, the commentary by "historian" Dr Anthony Santoro is mostly just another sarcastic, demeaning rant against the people in the film, so typical of those who pronounce judgement on the vanquished after every war. The marching soldiers and other Germans who reverberated such thrills of hope for their poor, beleagured country are all long dead, but Santoro must make fun of them for the amusement (?) of the American audience. Try to remember -- this movie was not made for YOU!
Splendid transfer of a beautifully malevolent film
I. Martinez-Ybor | Miami, FL USA | 04/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I had seen TotW in the theatre (Anthology Film Archives, NYC), on video and I could feel the power, in spite of the jumpy images, splotches of darkness, scratchy prints. The DVD transfer is magisterial. Clean, sharp, the underlying visual rhythm clearly discernible, the structure of the work exerting its magic without restraint. And, as good a sound as one can ever expect. The transition between pompous nocturnal nazi party celebrations to a misty dawn progressively clearing to reveal air views of Nuremberg's ancient rooftops, with the lens coming to rest fully sharp on row upon row of simmetrical white tents, where party members are waking up, all set to the quiet prelude to the third act of Wagner's Meistersinger (a piece in itself celebratory of German art and set in medieval Nuremberg), is pure cinema magic. And it establishes visual continuity (ergo historical?) from the traditional Germany of Hans Sachs to its 20th century flowering under Adolf Hitler...... not a small feat to accomplish within less than a handful of cinematic minutes. Like magic, there is technique behind it. This is not a news-style documentary but a film constructed flawlessly in the editing room. Leni had full control of the editing and supposedly did most of it herself. The result is mesmerizing. One can understand how an unthinking populace could fall for it, and how keen an intellect and great an artist Riefenstahl is (I gather she's still active at 90+). This is not just a nicely crafted collection of pretty pictures of an old city and massive nazi spectacle. Everything is calculated to evoke an emotional response helping consolidate the identification of Germany as Hitler and Hitler as Germany. Yet, it is also a beautiful film. It is frightening for its lack of human ambiguity, for the willful surrender of a people to a master. There is a lot of "joy" portrayed in the film (perhaps of the "strength through joy" kind) but after seeing it this time, I realized there is not a single funny moment in it. Placing myself in 1935 Germany, and erasing from my mind everything that subsequently happened, I was comfortably glad to realize that, temperamentally, I would have had a hard time with the nazis, indeed would probably have reacted to all things around me by becoming an anarchist or some such thing. But ... who knows? Films like this are made to seduce.The DVD comes with a short documentary of German military maneuvres also from 1935. It still amazes me that the French and the English, seeing these two films, not to mention taking into account other German actions in the Ruhr, etc., did not commence rearmament sooner or would not have been so duped at Munich. If you feel it is immoral to watch this movie .... get over it. Anyone with a serious interest in film needs to see this. Anyone interested in seeing how visual imagery can be structured to propagate a faith needs to see this. For that matter, all our contemporary putative manipulators: marketeers, political consultants, advertising executives, TV and movie producers ought to see this. Citizens who want to remain informed and self-determinating ought to see this. Most immediately, anyone who wants to put together a beautiful, masterly structured film from tons of negative reels needs to see this.... and I don't think anyone born after the war has seen it better than in this DVD."
A most valuable historical record
petyko | Suisun, CA | 03/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's easy to see how this now famous (or infamous) 1934 film by Leni Riefenstal could have helped reinforce Hitler's already dizzying domination of the German psyche. For our own time, it helps reveal the human complexity of the Nazi phenomenon - so much more than just a march of crazed fanatics, as it's often stereotyped today. Triumph of the Will is particularly relevant to current politics - the Austrian controversy, as well as the continued importance of various dictators who still garner so much of the media spotlight. Sadly, the near-sightedness of the Nazi mentality and its contradictory nature were already glaringly apparent at the time the movie was shot. Hitler's frenzied admonitions to value "peace" but at the same time to cultivate "courage", bristle with contradiction and hypocrisy. Brief allusions to racial purity and clear-cut moral rectitude are darkly ominous, as are the reiterated pledges of allegiance to Hitler , the man. It's instructive to compare Nazi rhetoric with much of today's political hype. Though, as many others have pointed out, nobody else has done it with quite the same elan. Sad to think that had they watched their own film with a more discerning eye, they might have seen what we see. From an artistic standpoint, I can appreciate why it's cited as one of the most accomplished of all propagandist vehicles. Nazi shortcomings notwithstanding, the film is stunning. Riefenstahl's contribution is self-evident - even if she didn't direct the action herself, she captured and organized it admirably. But for all that, it is still the action which is most spellbinding. The gripping facial expressions, the charismatic speeches, the thundering shouts of allegiance, the enormous scale and choreography - all of this actually took place! Combine that with historical perspective - knowing what all of it would lead to - and the movie acquires a distincively haunting quality. I not only recommend this film to others, I strongly advise it. It captures the very essence of social fanaticism. Many will instinctively feel its primitive appeal, and then, after putting it into perspective, recognize its inherent madness. Watching this movie, appreciating the feelings it evokes and reflecting on what it all means, will make the viewer a better person."