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Topic: Jagger at Leni Riefenstahl's 100th birthday party Return to archive Page: 1 2
08-26-02 11:10 AM
Helmut Controversial Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl Turns 100
By Roland Eggleston

Germany's most controversial filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, is celebrating her 100th birthday today. In many parts of the world, she is respected as a brilliant director and photographer, but in Germany, she is best remembered for her early fascination with Adolf Hitler. Riefenstahl admits to the attraction, but says millions of other Germans felt the same in the early 1930s.

Munich, 22 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Controversial filmmaker and photographer Leni Riefenstahl, best known for the film "Triumph of the Will," which depicted the 1934 Nazi rally in Nuremberg, is celebrating her 100th birthday today at a luxury hotel on Lake Starnberg, just outside Munich.

Her 180 guests range from Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger to the popular German film actress Uschi Glas and the country's most prominent feminist, Alice Schwarzer. But none of Germany's leading film directors or producers will be present.

Riefenstahl summed up her role in modern Germany recently by telling a newspaper, "You know, I don't have too many friends in Germany," she said. "Most of my friends live in other countries."

Riefenstahl looks 20 years younger than her 100 years. Her hair is blonde with a touch of red, and those who talk to her say she is exuberant and full of plans for new films and books of photographs.

In Germany, her 100th birthday has prompted a new round of newspaper and magazine articles examining her career and her relationship with Adolph Hitler. Even reviews of her new 45-minute film on underwater life off the coast of Papua New Guinea, called "Underwater Impressions," are dominated by comments on her political past. It is her first film since 1954.

The past has also come back to haunt her in the form of a court case filed this month by Roma and Sinti organizations. They charge that Riefenstahl collaborated with the Nazis in 1940 to obtain 60 Roma and Sinti from an internment camp to play background roles in the film "Tiefland." It is the second time such charges have been heard in court. In 1948, she was cleared by a court of falsely promising to rescue Roma and Sinti actors from deportation. Some 500,000 Roma and Sinti people died in concentration camps.

One of those allegedly forced to act in the film, 16-year-old Rosa Winter, survived four years in a concentration camp and now lives in Austria. She told German newspapers that most of those forced to act in the film later perished at Auschwitz, including her own mother, father, and 11 siblings.

But Winter offers a complex view of Riefenstahl. "Frau Riefenstahl was a wonderful woman," she told the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung." "We girls admired her. She treated us well and was always very courteous."

But she also said Riefenstahl could have done more to help the imprisoned Roma. "If she had made an attempt to help, we Roma would hail her as a saint today," Winter said.

Riefenstahl's notoriety rests largely on "Triumph of the Will," her film about the 1934 rally in Nuremberg attended by about 30,000 Nazis, including Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy.

After the war, critics looked at the film not as art but as a brilliant work of propaganda. Her use of camera angles, lighting, music, and other effects presented Hitler and other Nazi leaders as heroes. She used 130 antiaircraft searchlights to illuminate thousands of Nazi banners around the arena and the huge German eagle above it. The film was awarded a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937.

Her reputation grew with "Olympia," a two-part film about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. She was personally chosen by Hitler to film the Olympics and was given every resource necessary. Many experts credit her with inventing or improving many of the techniques of sports photography now taken for granted. The film was officially released on 20 April 1938, Hitler's birthday.

Riefenstahl met Hitler for the first time around 1932 and does not deny that as a young woman she was fascinated by him. But she argues that millions of other Germans were also fascinated by Hitler in the 1930s. She has always rejected the label often used by the media that she was "Hitler's filmmaker," and she vigorously denies allegations that she was his lover. She was never a member of the Nazi party.

After the war, Riefenstahl found it almost impossible to obtain film work. Riefenstahl's role as a virtual "nonperson" in Germany ended with the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The "Sunday Times" of London hired her as a photographer and opened the way for her return to the public eye.

After the Olympics, Riefenstahl went to Africa and spent a year living with an African tribe and photographing their life. Her book on the Nuba people has become a collector's item. At the age of 72, she also took up scuba diving and began photographing underwater life.

Throughout it all, however, she has found it difficult, if not impossible, to escape her past. An exhibition in Hamburg in 1997 of Riefenstahl's movie stills and her African and underwater photography brought out a new generation of protesters. They demonstrated in front of the gallery with placards reading, "Now Showing: Nazi Exhibition."

For Riefenstahl, it was a continuation of the problems she faced after the war. She was cleared by an American de-Nazification court as early as June 1945, but that did little to recover her reputation. She was arrested and imprisoned when she moved to France shortly thereafter. It was not until 1949 that she was formally cleared by a French tribunal of any Nazi associations.

In a recent statement about her 100th birthday, Riefenstahl said such unpleasantness is behind her and that she looks forward to living for several more years and making more films.

08-26-02 11:32 AM
jb That is not a good thing.
08-26-02 12:40 PM
Mathijs ouch, Mick should stay away from that...She's worshipped by neo-nazi's in Holland, Germany and Belgium (maybe somewhere else too), as rumours still are she had an affair with Hitler.

08-26-02 12:47 PM
Funky Punk Woman Now Mick's gonna fuck 100 years old 'girls'? Our man is original
08-26-02 01:11 PM
prism Was Mick actually at Leni's party? She probably invited him but he probably didn't go.
08-26-02 01:18 PM
sirmoonie "Was Mick actually at Leni's party? She probably invited him but he probably didn't go."

I hope thats the case. Be kinda disgusted with Mick if he had anything to do with that fucking Nazi bitch.
08-26-02 04:21 PM
TT I´d prefer if he went to LENIN´s birthday party.
08-26-02 04:29 PM
Moonisup Jagger should'nt deal with her. She made pictures of his family. She adored Hitler and making the Nuremberg video. This is a shame!! I'm realy sad.
[Edited by Moonisup]
08-26-02 05:14 PM
F505 And it seemed like a hundred years ago (jagger/richards)
08-26-02 05:42 PM
Moonisup Well it aint a hundred years ago!
"I was born in a crossfire hurricane" and the chick who supported it is a friend
08-26-02 07:26 PM
Sir Stonesalot Politics aside, she is/was a brilliant film maker. Very innovative. I haven't always been impressed with her subject matter, but the films were always visually stunning.

It seems that "n" words always cause quite a stir.

Say what you will...but do you think any of you could have done things differently, given the same set of circumstances, and with no foresight of the future? When she made "Triumph Of The Will" she could not have known what the Nazi Party would become. Same with "Olympia". All she knew is that Hitler was offering her the chance...and unlimited make magnificent films. As an artist, could you have said no? And remember, she did not have the luxury of history books to make her choices.

By the time war became a reality, there would have been no way for her to say no to Hitler. To say no was a certain death sentence. Her choice, make movies, or die.

So before you condem her, stand in her shoes. I don't think she was a Nazi. If the US and French both failed to convict her..twice..then I don't think there's anything to the story. I think she was a brilliant film maker living in a very horrible, and dangerous time. A time and place where all of your choices were wrong.

Now, before anyone here says that I'm some kind of Nazi sympathizer...let me say that I can't abide anything that the Nazi Party, or any supremecist group stands for. What the Nazi's propogated upon the world is simply unforgivable. But Leni didn't hurt anyone. She simply made movies.
08-26-02 07:40 PM
Martha Thaks for posting this is facsinating to me since I graduated with a degree in flim and so did my husband.

Sir Stonesy said: "But Leni didn't hurt anyone. She simply made movies."

I agree, the times were the times and she could not have forseen the future...her innovations are certainly worth celebrating. I'm glad Mick went, since he's so interested in film I can understand why he wanted to be there.

I am not a Nazi sympathizer either. I hate all the racist "n" words and NEVER use them.

peace be with you,
08-27-02 03:04 PM
CS Some pix of Leni with Mick Jagger from her official site

08-27-02 11:48 PM
Bluzian Ah, you Stones fan-atix are the best! You never cease to
amaze me! The pics with Mick (which I've never seen) were
such a treat!! Cheers! A pleasure.

08-28-02 02:28 AM
marcus aurelianus I quite agree with you Sir Stonesalot .

For those who are interested in cinema ,ask Martin Scorcese
what he thinks about leni Rifensthal...We should be very
surprised ...

By the way , do you know Jodie Foster is about to direct a film about her life ? She is courageous .
08-28-02 04:31 AM
Mathijs I agree that it is very hard to judge decisions made 65 years ago, in another world, at another time. However, I do think Leni had a choice, and I do think she was aware of what Hitler would bring. Triumph of Will was made in a time when large part of Germany’s intelectual elite was locked away in camps already (remember, Buchenwald is from 1932) and Jewish bankers and lawyers were already restricted. When she made Olympia in ’36 Hitler already had declared his politics of separation and expansion.

These two films are the most known, but she has made dozens of propaganda films during the war with dubious content: on the inferior life form called Jew and Gypsy, on the good life in Camp Buchenwald, featuring a Gypsy family of 100 a day prior to their “destruction”. She kept very close to Hitler until late 1943, until Hitler mental health started to get worse. If your that close to the elite of Nazi-Germany there is no way she didn’t know what was happening in Europe. She knew about the Endlosing, she knew about the destruction of all those people.

And yes, especially she had a choice, she was in the position to move away from it, as many known figures like scientists and movie stars had done. Leni wasn’t your average Joe who had the choice of going to the Eastern front or going to a Working Camp in Germany. Leni was allowed to travel to where ever she wanted, she had enough money to sustain the good life in the US, all she had to do is visit the US and stay there. Just like people like Marlene Dietrich she would have been able to have a career in the US.

But, she chose differently. She chose to stay close to Hitler, and chose to make propaganda films at a time everybody knew what the reality of Hitler’s regime was.

Leni isn’t convicted because until the Treaty of The Hague in 1992, a witness of war crimes could not be prosecuted legally. A witness can only be a witness in trial. In 1992, this new treaty was decided upon especially for the Yugoslavian War. From 1992 on, if you are witness of a war crime (e.g. if you are a journalist taking pictures of camps, or a soldier witnessing tortures or executions) you can be prosecuted for not stopping or reporting it (this treaty is rectified by the entire world except for the US, as the US is afraid the US army will be charged by the entire Islamic world).

On both Leni’s trials decided is that she was a mere witness, and not an actual participator. Knowing about Hitler’s regime isn’t enough to get one convicted.

To forget about one's past just because someone is really talented, that is wrong in my opinion.

08-28-02 04:37 AM
Moonisup That's true. You're just right! Nothing more to say
08-28-02 06:52 AM
lotsajizz Good for Mick!! Screw the enduring anti-Germanism.
08-28-02 10:01 AM
jb Mathjis, for once, we are in total agreement. To pay tribute via film to a movement which was resposible for killing 10's of millions of people, has no artistic value. This woman's films glorified what to many, are the darkest days of mankind.
To equate this with being anti-german is absurd. Today's Germany can not be blamed for the sins of its fathers. However, Germany has a responsibility to ensure that such hatred never happens again.
08-28-02 10:04 AM
Tops Mathijs is totally correct. I am very dissapointed in Mick Jagger. People must distance themselves from people such as Leni. We must NEVER FORGET what happened.
08-28-02 10:08 AM
Tops And I don't believe Leni made films with the purpose of preserving the atrocities so that people will NEVER FORGET. This is totally disgusting, and there are no justifications.
08-28-02 11:06 AM
sirmoonie She's a scumbag. Hitler and his buddies made no secret of what their aims were from day 1. She thought it was "charming" and dived into that hole like a fucking gopher. Hope she never sees 101.

Disgusted with Mick. Didn't know about his dealings with her. He may as well have taken a piss on the graves of the quarter million plus of his countrymen that died making sure he could grow up to be a Rolling Stone.

"enduring anti-Germanism" Well there sure was quite a mess to be anti-German about wasn't there? And the insanity has never quite left the German mentality has it? This isn't the distant past people. There are many people still walking this planet who remember their loved ones lost to Nazi Germany quite well. Its not forgive and forget time just yet. Maybe next week....
08-28-02 11:20 AM
jb Since Mick has been my idol for almost 30 yrs, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and trust he in no way shares or endorses anything having to do with that movement.
08-28-02 11:26 AM
Moonisup I hope so,
08-28-02 11:33 AM
Sir Stonesalot Look, all I'm saying is that she made some outstanding films. Of course, most of the subject matter is distasteful...but that doesn't change the fact that the films are innovative, and look spectacular.

I never said I approved of Leni's choices...just that I can understand why she did what she did. As someone who is interested in film, I appreciate her contributions in film making.

In no way do I condone anything the Nazi's stood for. But Leni was not a Nazi. Never joined the party. A witness, yeah, no doubt. But if you are gonna convict her of that, you gotta convict just about any German over the age of 60.
08-28-02 11:36 AM
sirmoonie Oh I agree jb. He's still Mick and he's still the man and obviously he's not a Nazi. I worship Mick Jagger. I just question that choice he made. Question it quite a bit actually. He didn't exactly balance the equation correctly, IMO. Shades of Hanoi Jane.
08-28-02 11:51 AM
jb Obviously Mick has known her for some time..the pictures of Mick and Bianca are almost 30 yrs old. Mick, being very much interested in film, probably is interested in her work. I think Mick certainly would not like the negative publicity , particularly on the start of a tour, which could alienate a large segment of his audience.
Hopefully he did'nt attend as he has been in Toronto the last month or so, and I thought her birthday was in Germany.
08-28-02 01:30 PM
lotsajizz And yet does anyone here criticize Sergei Eisenstein? Sorry folks, your double standard is duly noted for what it is.
08-28-02 01:36 PM
jb Forget it...
[Edited by jb]
08-28-02 01:52 PM
sirmoonie Your lack of ANY standard is duly noted, Lots of Jizz.

No way, jb. Those who "forget it" are doomed to repeat it. What he asked, Mr. Lots of Jizz, if that is your real name, was what the hell are you trying to say? That her behavior was ok? Just what are you trying to say? Spit it out, man! Quite hiding behind you low IQ and say what you mean!

Then he called you a bunch of names that I'm too polite to repeat.
[Edited by sirmoonie]
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