In an essay, please discuss the following: How does Triumph of the Will succeed or not succeed as a work of propaganda? First, you will have to determine what director Leni Riefenstahl requested personally by Adolf Hitler to make the film intended to convey in Triumph of the Will. Hint: Germany as a strong country that has returned from the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles, with a vow to never allow such humiliation to occur again. Indeed, she begins the film with a reference to WWI and Germany’s suffering. BE SURE TO ANALYZE AND INTERPRET RATHER THAN RETELL WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FILM. It will be important to focus on Hitler at some point in your essay and describe how he appears, how he speaks, what he says, and contemplate why the German people followed him willingly. Also think about some of the questions on the study guide (paragraph below), such as the path that the U.S. followed in grim economic times in comparison with Germany’s course of action. Again, focus on details from two or three scenes from the film and analyze what the director chose to show, and how she showed it. This film was made in 1934 one year after Hitler came to power and released in 1935. World War II began when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939.
(STUDY GUIDE) Triumph of the Will is the best known propaganda film of the twentieth century. Leni Riefenstahl filmed the 1934 Nazi Party rally in the medieval city of Nuremberg for the express purpose of promoting a positive image of Adolf Hitler who helped produce the film and the country he came to rule one year earlier. The director staged some of the scenes in Triumph, often using many takes to get it right: hence, it is not, technically speaking, a true documentary. The completed film is out of chronological order, edited with the intention of presenting the most powerful images that Riefenstahl shot in 1934. The first scenes of an airplane transporting Hitler to the rally like a mythical god descending through the clouds sets the tone for the film: Hitler is the messiah who will lead Germany back to greatness after the humiliation of its defeat in World War I and the unfair treatment it received in the Treaty of Versailles. Military strength and unity of the German people are central themes of the film. The political chaos of the 1920s and early 1930s, along with the economic disaster of those years, have been erased and replaced with order and hope in the figure of a true German leader, i.e., Adolf Hitler. Indeed, as Nazi leaders claimed, only Der Fhrer showed the strength of will needed to save Germany from Zionist-influenced communism.
As you watch the film pay close attention not only to what is shown, but also to what is said by the various leaders and others. Things to think about: what type of people in particular does Riefenstahl focus her camera on? What mood is conveyed? How did Hitler appear as a speaker (mannerisms, choice of words, themes)? The Nazi salute Sieg heil (Hail victory) is used often in the film. What victory is being celebrated here? It would be another five years after the film appeared before Germany invaded Poland and initiated World War II. Should the rest of the world have concerned itself with Germany’s military might as portrayed in Triumph of the Will? Apart from their bad 1930s haircuts, how are Nazi leaders (other than Hitler) portrayed in the film? Until the German invasion of Poland, many people outside of Germany viewed Hitler and his cohorts as harmless buffoons. Does the film strengthen or weaken this interpretation? Again, consider the topics listed above as you watch the film it is not necessary to address them in your essay but to use them to gather perspective.
In a 3 to 4-page essay, choose two or three scenes to analyze and describe in vivid detail. Discuss exactly what the director shows and the results intended.
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