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Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia

by Critical Commons Manager

Much has been written about Leni Riefenstahl's role in crafting the visual rhetoric of the Nazi party, but few sequences so clearly articulate the ideology of neo-classicism found in the body ideals of the Aryan superman. In this opening sequence, Riefenstahl literally envisions Greek statues coming to life, dissolving into the bodies of German athletes performing feats of strength. The sequence is also deeply erotic, with naked or nearly naked images of both sexes seamlessly blending movements that are both dancelike and athletic. These poetic sequences of "universal beauty" allowed Olympia to be among the least reviled of Riefenstahl's films among documentary historians who are allowed to celebrate the film's technical innovations because of the (at least partially) submerged Nazi ideology.

by Liannet Bonano

Olympia opening

The opening sequence of athletes warming up in Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia

from Olympia (1938)
Creator: Leni Riefenstahl
Distributor: National Socialist Party
Posted by Steve Anderson