Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Olympia (1938)

This is a film that makes a lot of cinephiles uncomfortable. On the one hand: Unprecedented camera angles! Tracking shots! Time Magazine's 100 Best Films! On the other: It's totally Nazi propaganda. Director Leni Riefenstahl is a divisive figure but one that must be reckoned with. She was a personal friend of Hitler's and an unreconstructed Nazi while simultaneously breaking ground as a female filmmaker in a time that was even less amenable to women in the industry. Olympia is also the forerunner of the sort of pageantry and pomp that accompany the Olympics to this day. Will we be able to separate the politics from the aesthetics?

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