Friday, August 28, 2009

Ueber Adonis

Leni Rieffenstahl was famous as a brilliant film maker and enthusiastic Nazi collaborator. She also had a great eye for man-flesh. Here it is on brilliant display in the opening of the second half of Olympia, her great film about the 1936 Olympics. Enjoy the skinny dipping athletes in the opening sequence.



She seems to have had a thing for American athletes. Her camera dwells lovingly at length on Jesse Owens and Glenn Morris. She claimed to have had an affair with Morris. She said that at one point, he grabbed her and tore off her blouse and kissed her breasts in front of thousands of people in the Olympiastadion.
Like all of Rieffenstahl's stories (especially the whopper about her ignorance of Nazi policies), the story of the affair with Morris should be taken with several large grains of salt.

24 comments:

Davis said...

Amazing and stunning cinematography - and trashy music.

Counterlight said...

"...and trashy music."

I don't know, I always liked the Herbert Windt score, but then I like Respighi. Perhaps I should say no more.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Nothing homoerotic about THAT. No sireebob!

I did love the slide from the man jumping rope to the kangaroo...

JayV said...

It's amazing propaganda, too.
She also directed Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will), about the Nuremberg party rallies in the 1934.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcFuHGHfYwE

Counterlight said...

I can't figure out what a kangaroo was doing in the Olympic Village in Berlin in 1936.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Probably one of the Aussies snuck it in... ;-)

David G. said...

That's what I picked up on was the kangaroo, .. what?

susan s. said...

You are allowed to like Respighi. I noticed the slightly minor key change when Owens and Morris appeared. Was Jesse Owens the only Black man there? He was the only Black American, right?

it's margaret said...

I like the sauna scene.... wonder what type of bushes they used?

susan s. said...

Birch twigs with fresh leaves, Margaret! They are the traditional, historically informed, instrument of stimulation.

Counterlight said...

There were a lot of African Americans at the 1936 Olympics, and Jesse Owens was not the only one to bring home gold medals.

Counterlight said...

Jesse Owens and Glenn Morris are not in this clip (so far as I can tell). Sorry, I should have made that clear.

Rick+ said...

Ich habe das Dampfbad am liebsten!

susan s. said...

Gesundheit! Rick+

Grandmère Mimi said...

Very nice. Very gay.

I liked the Italians, myself. Only a brief glimpse, but that was enough. Y'all can have the Aryans.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Did anyone say "shallow"? If so, why not? I was bored after 5 minutes.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Only the sufaces, no human beings.

Davis said...

Respighi?! Egads... ;-)

Counterlight said...

Well, I SAID Respighi is a guilty pleasure, just like I enjoy Frank Frazetta's sci-fi and fantasy illustrations.

Their work is load's o'fun, but Respighi ain't no Mozart and Frazetta ain't no Picasso.

Counterlight said...

"Only the surfaces, no human beings."

That's the problem with totalitarian art, it's all so shallow. Since History is supposed to be over and we are all supposed to be in ideological paradise, there can be no more conflict. And if there is no more conflict, there can be no real drama.
Everyone is reduced to types. There is no real character, growth, or variety in dramatis personae. In fact, there can be no personae any more because there's no more dramtis.

I've always thought of Riefenstahl as a great "abstract" film maker. Abstract not in the sense of imagery, but in her approach to the subject. For all of its insistent Neo-Classicism, "Olympia" is a very Modern movie. There is no real plot or narrative, no characters, no dialogue, and certainly no drama. Even the drama of overcoming obstacles, which is a big part of both ancient and modern athletics, is remarkably absent in this movie. It is all about splendid statues of splendid physiques coming to life and going on display, as the opening of the movie makes clear. It's as much about form and only form as any painting by Ad Reinhardt or any building by Mies Van Der Rohe. "Olympia" is about as "Post-Humanist" as you can get.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Thank you ;=)

David G. said...

Do you listen to your students, when checking out blog fodder?!?

They are a resource of unlimited information, ...of course I would hope U know that~!!

I've been called a blog {interloper) by some who call themselves Christian.
(Giggles)
He knows who I am!!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Comments seem to be coming and going... Is that you? or some Russian hunting oppositionals and Georgians...

Davis said...

I'm all for guilty pleasure, i assure you... Busoni anyone?