'Leni Riefenstahl's only significance was as a propagandist for the Third Reich'. In light of this statement, assess the significance of Leni Riefenstahl's work in Nazi propaganda until 1945

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Leni Riefenstahl is most widely known for her films Triumph of the Will and Olympia. However, these works, despite being so far ahead of their time, there was and still remains much controversy surrounding them and there is a historical argument as to whether these films were propagandist in nature, or whether Riefenstahl was merely a careerist, aiming to advance her career in any way possible and as she says "What was I supposed to do, make a bad film?" Riefenstahl took advantage of 'manufactured consensus', i.e., as she controlled the cameras, she was able to control the footage her audience viewed, thus only allowing them to see what she wanted them to. Manufactured consensus also refers to the way many of her scenes appear to simply be the way things occurred, however they had been pre-arranged and choreographed by Riefenstahl. Through her editing and splicing of footage, Riefenstahl was able to amplify the effect of her movies and the impact they had on her audiences.

"Can an artist remain aloof of politics?" Historian SM Frapel argues that an artist most certainly can remain aloof of politics, as many had during the initial years of Nazi rule. However, these artists saw their works banned for failing to meet the requirements of the Reichskamera. What can be extrapolated from this, is that those artists who remained aloof from politics were never allowed to have their works screened or exhibited in Nazi Germany, and as a result, their careers were inhibited. However Leni was a careerist and would therefore do anything to have her work shown in public. She could have, as many intellectuals, scientist & other artists had done, left Nazi Germany and would have easily found work as a director in Hollywood, and with its high profile, she could have been equally successful and probably even more

One must also examine the question "Does and artist have a moral obligation to reject certain sponsorships?" Riefenstahl defends herself as an apolitical artist, never becoming a member of the Nazi party or the Reichskamera, always striving for the ultimate perfection in her undertakings. Artists, because of their visibility and talent, should be held to a higher standard of responsibility regarding their works. A person may choose to be apolitical, however the choice to opt out of civic responsibility does not relieve them of the consequences. This is vividly evident in Riefenstahl's second film "Triumph of the Will". After much pressuring by Hitler, Riefenstahl reluctantly agreed to direct the film. This is further evidence of Leni advancing her career, as others such as acclaimed director Emil Schuneman, who had initially been approached to direct the film, refused to work on the film. Leni could have therefore done the same, as others had done so before her.

Riefenstahl was employed by Hitler to film Triumph of the Will, maintaining her independence from the Reichskamera, which she maintained throughout her directing life in Nazi Germany. She in fact had her own production company, which was rare for a woman at that time. When trying to assess whether or not Triumph of the Will was a propaganda film, it is necessary to consider Goebels's comment that the film was "a masterpiece of propaganda", and that of Hitler's, when he wrote that Triumph of the Will was "a totally unique and incomparable glorification of the power & beauty of our Movement".

Two key notions which are so effectively tapped into in the film, are that of Hitler as Germany's saviour, & the notion of the Volksgemeinschaft (VGS). Scenes two and three capture the notion of Hitler as Germany's saviour, with scene three a continuation of scene two. Scene two begins with an extended aerial shot of the old city of Nuremberg through cloud & mist. Below on the winding, narrow streets are the storm troopers marching in formation. The plane carrying Hitler then appears through the clouds, with its shadow on the ground in the shape of the cross. The images convey...
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