Analysis of a Primary Source Olympia

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Analysis of a Primary Source

Topic; Images of Athletes from the 1936 Berlin Olympics

1. (Primary Source) Riefenstahl, Leni. Olympia: Festival of the People. 1938. 112 minutes 2. (Primary Source) Riefenstahl, Leni. Olympia: Festival of Beauty. 1938. 91 minutes.

When assessing the film Olympia from a seemingly naïve glance, it can easily be perceived as a film successful in capturing the beauty and spirit of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Without taking into consideration the political context of the time, it is easy to assume that Leni Riefenstahl’s film Olympia is merely a work of art focused on expressing the artist’s artistic vision. Instead, I found it is when you analyze the film with knowledge of the surrounding political context when you start to notice subtle qualities of political nature. I will discuss and explore these underlying aspects of propaganda during this analysis of Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl.

The prologue of Olympia hints to qualities of propaganda and a political nature. The prologue is set in Greece, displaying the columns of the Parthenon and the Diskobolos of Myron. The use of this Greek heritage implies a connection between the ancient roots of the Olympic Games to that of the German nation. When further researching my topic I found an interesting statement, that Hitler himself took a likening to the artworks of the Ancient Greeks as he found their artwork void from any Jewish influence. This perhaps explains the homage to the roots of the Olympics at the start of Olympia.

The film’s name Olympia itself refers to the ancient site of the Olympic Games. Some historians have suggested that in ancient Greece Olympia was seen as a place ‘peopled by heroes and ruled by the Gods’. Does the fact that a German film titled ‘Olympia’ imply that German athletes are the hero’s and Hitler and his authorities the Gods? Further, connections to the 1936 Berlin Olympics and Ancient Greece are scene when the sculpture of an...
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