Leni Riefenstahl

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Describe the personal background and the historical context of the personality you have studied. Leni Riefenstahl was regarded as having led five separate lives, but the life of Leni Riefenstahl is one that is characterised by remorseless passion and incessant desire to convey herself artistically in any way, shape or form. Leni demonstrated a certain single-minded fervour in the search of artistic brilliance until the day of her death at 101 years of age, and the greater excellence of a number of the works that she produced is a testament to this assertion. While her reputation has been permanently tarnished by the involvement of her work with Nazi propaganda and fascist aesthetics, the indisputable fact of the matter is that in spite of her motivations, the techniques she established in the expression of her artistic talent have revolutionised the way that films are produced to this very day and as result, Leni Riefenstahl has had a lasting, if controversial, impact upon history. Born in 1902 to moderately wealthy, middle class parents; Leni Riefenstahl’s uncontainable desire to convey herself artistically often resulted in arguments with her father who beheld the idea of dancing with despise, especially in light of the popular awareness of Berlin as a ‘national sewer’ that was under the thralls of ‘moral anarchy’ after the war. Leni’s dancing career began in the October of 1923, in spite of harsh disapproval of her father. Leni’s first solo performance caught the eye of Max Reinhardt, who as a result provided her with a comfortable living as a dancer in his Deutches Theatre following the destruction of hyperinflation upon the German economy. The fervour with which Leni entered into her ensuing career as a solo act in several major cities is a testament to the remorseless passion that characterises her strong will to accomplish her dreams, as evidenced by the enthusiasm she demonstrated while choreographing new routines and altering costumes and music to suit her artistic ideas. Leni’s style conformed to the Expressionist movement that conquered Weimar culture at the time, which tried to connect audiences by encouraging them to share in the emotional experience of the performer, as well as the concept of the ‘Cult of the Body’ that conquered Germany’s artistic ideology in an attempt to restore the nation following the devastation of the First World War, Leni was described as lively, graceful and free-flowing in her movements. Even though she was successful, Leni would not attain the status of astonishing before her great devotion resulted in an injury that would bring the end of her dancing career. However, luck would later step in while she was waiting to embark the train to see a specialist, at which point the poster for Fanck’s upcoming film ‘Mountain of Destiny’ enthralled the young Leni and catalysed her search of a career in acting, a career which eventually lay the foundation for her momentous impact on history. After viewing ‘Mountain of Destiny’ Leni Riefenstahl was enthralled to such a degree that she instantly required out its lead actor and director for the purpose of vigorously pursuing the shift from dancing to acting. As the 1920s progressed, the “Golden Age” of Weimar cinema that was characterised by the high brow Expressionist genre slowly gave way to the appearance of ‘berg’ films as the method of the film that conquered German cinema, and it is within this arena that the powerful combination of Leni and Fanck facilitated the fast rise of the former fame. Their first endeavour, entitled ‘The Holy Mountain’ resulted in the adding of a new dimension to Fanck’s filming, given that the inclusion of Leni’s past life reinvigorated the genre by adding expressionist essentials to films that had beforehand been apparent as male star vehicles. However, the actress’ raid into film did not create completely positive results, since work on the mountains was burdened with danger and Leni sustained an injury that...
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