Triumph of the Will, describing the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, is a propaganda film of the highest caliber that was produced by the golden girl of the German film industry, Leni Riefenstahl. The propaganda in the film is its portrayal of the rebirth of Germany to its ancient heroism.
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The documentary falsely depicted that Germany was to achieve that through the efforts of one man, Adolf Hitler, the savior of his people. In order to blend such reality with such propaganda, without compromise, the filmmakers designed the distinctive cinema. And, they ensured that the cinema is able to revolutionize “real life” while actually documenting the actual happenings. Ultimately, they intended to produce a grand and ultimate illusion of the Nazi regime. This definition paper explains the characteristics of the film.
The film is structured in a straightforward way to make it easy for the audience to follow. Its events take place in a perfectly chronological order. It commences with Adolf’s coming in Nuremberg, proceeding through the demonstrations, rallies, and the rhetorics in the exact sequence they took place. Lastly, it culminates with Fuhrer’s final address to the people. Riefenstahl did not add any other thing to the happenings.
She only included some musical background. Notably, she incorporated all the events in the film except for other minute details for the reasons of economy. All through the film, innovative techniques of the use of music and cinematography is evident as the producer used various cinema devices to make the film. Some of these devices include efficient camera set-ups, editing, and dissolution of the subject matter.
The use of these devices made the filmmakers to depict various themes to the audience. The incorporation of various images in the film, such as antique structures, the sky, and fire, illustrate the key theme in the movie, which is to depict that Hitler had arrived from the sky to emancipate the German people by means of a dynamic and new movement that would change the course of history forever. The producer’s selection of the right motifs to reiterate and emphasize is greatly fostered through the staged nature of the happenings.
It is important to note that the majority of these motifs were intentionally envisioned to function “live.” In fact, the antique buildings constructed to accommodate the assembly are evocative of the movies produced in the 1920s. Nonetheless, the producer’s accurate cinematic representation of them establishes yet another dimension. This dimension was to cleanse all sorts of “worldliness” that had not been completely eliminated while maintaining the appearance of “reality” in the film.
The revolutionary use of camera set-ups in the film generates two important effects. These are disorientation and animation. Riefenstahl created disorientation effects through failing to include some important elements of “reality” out of the frame. Principally, this was realized through depicting only the upper parts of things and individuals making them to appear as if they are not standing on anything.
Therefore, in most cases in the film, structures are viewed in relation to the sky and not the earth so as to “spiritualize” some material events in the assembly. An example is the depiction of the castles hanging in the air. Animation, which is the giving of life to material objects, is realized through close-up and angle of vision, for example, the scene of flags parading, whereby they are the merest glances of those holding them.
The close-up technique makes the observer to see himself or herself as though he or she is in the middle of flags that look as if they have been propelled in motion by themselves. In addition, the longer shots of the camera angle obscure any human presence; thus, “reality” again becomes metaphorical as the objects are in motion as though they have been given some supernatural power. To be more precise, it appears that the objects are in motion because they have received power from Hitler.
Editing technique in the film also disorients the audience. And, it makes them to lose perception through a quick change of angle. Further, a quick change from close-up to long shot can also achieve this. The cut is capable of enhancing the animistic nature of the motif tremendously. For example, the scene in which the multitude shouting inside the stadium unexpectedly turns out to be, in a long shot from outside, the stadium itself filling the air with shouts.
Therefore, through continuous fluctuation of subject matter, continuous movement of the camera, continuous change of the point of view, the solid “reality” of the city turns out to be unsubstantiated, hallucinations that are coherent only in dream.
This is a vision having no perception but only absolute panorama. Lastly, the use of the dissolution of the subject matter cinematic device is evident throughout the film. For example, vapor is depicted to be floating through the movie so as to form an ‘atmosphere’ of literally revolutionized and mysterious matter, other scenes depict the earth to be lost in darkness, and several torches become sparkling stars in other scenes.
In conclusion, Triumph of the Will, is filled with various innovative cinema techniques so as to be able to revolutionize ‘real life’ while actually documenting the real occurrences that took place during its shooting.