Building the Myth

Propaganda, which is the use of biased information, is used to shape the thoughts and reactions of anyone who sees it. It’s suppose to stir emotions and to gain an audience whom shares the same thoughts and ideas of all who see it. Propaganda films are some of the easiest ways to convince and audience of one’s deeds. In a film called “Triumph of Will” by Leni Riefenstahl, it desperately tries to garner an audience following while also trying to beautify the images of Nazism.

Research: Nazi Symbolism

As stated before, propaganda uses biased information to shape and stir emotions. In a film analysis called “Propaganda As Vision: Triumph of The Will” by Ken Kelman, he states that “the world presented is not necessarily the real one, where the work is ostensibly imagined, and though emotion may be stirred, it is not stirred by the facts of life”(p.1). From this, he means that throughout most of propaganda films, the use of emotionally attached images are used to stir up a reaction in the audience. “Triumph of Will” is no exception of this technique due to its massive use of imagery and sound to stir its German audience. Another thing to note is that propaganda films are unique and usually only stir the minds of the people at the time in which it was created. Altogether, this means that they are usually a direct result of a problem of that time.

Kelman also states in “Propaganda As Vision: Triumph of The Will”, that some imagery that is used in the film tries to glorify different aspects of it. For example, he points out that “ more often than not we see buildings in relation to the sky and not the earth, some literally castles in the air. This is one way in which the material events of the Rally are “spiritualized”, and all the marching masses after all are just the word of Hitler made flesh”(pg.3). He was referencing the different angles at which the film was shot, noting how the Rally was seen to be justified in some way because it was shown along with the sky, likely stirring emotions of pride. This is one of many ways in which propaganda is used in order to shape the minds of its audience.

Kelman also states that “Most remarkable here is the episode of flags parading, in which there are the merest glimpses of those bearing them. Close-up plunges the viewer into the midst of flags that seem to move of themselves, and in longer shots the camera angle obscures any human presence”(pg.3). What he is saying is that the shots of flags instills a sense of nationalism within the target audience. By leaving out the images of humans, the audience will be seem to believe that is they themselves that should be carrying the flags, thus promoting the theme of the film.

Respond: My Analysis

Screenshot from “Triumph of Will”

For my analysis of “Triumph of Will”, I wanted to screenshot a piece of the film that I felt would have elicited a powerful response from the audience at this time. I will use the picture above to establish its relation to the themes of the film including power, myth, and nationalism.

In the picture above, the target audience would be bombarded with a picture of a group of people. Being in a group makes anyone seem powerful and it is seemingly stating that the onlookers have the power. Because the film was to set the boundaries a to what being German was to be, it features a German cast with features that all Germans were expected to have or look like(white, strong). Altogether, the ‘power’ theme of the film is mainly seen through the eyes of the people it was suppose to provoke, meaning that the same scene might not be interpreted the same way for someone outside of the target audience. Nationalism is also heavily seen through this picture in reference the way the German men are saluting Hitler(off screen)as the savior of Germany.

Altogether, the picture also serves as to what the mythos of what being German meant. Since the film is meant to re establish Germans as a superior race, this meant that people who didn’t look like the established persona of the film, they were excluded from being considered German. It also shows us a glimpse as to what being German meant (strong, white, etc.).

Additional Thoughts

Courtesy of Google Images

Because postmodernism lives to question everything, you can see this film as a direct result of postmodernism. Postmodernism, however, was established long after this film was published. This film seems to share some of the same ideas as postmodernism, such to question the world around them. For example, you can look at the film as trying to re establish what being German meant. For the people of this time, they questioned their neighbor’s German lineage, stating that being born in Germany does not make you German: you also have to look like the established German man or woman.

Courtesy of Google Images

If you think about it deeply enough, you can see some of the same things in this picture about America, in a altered way. For example, America loves to show themes of power in numbers while also conveying ideas of justice and acceptance into the established American man or woman. Today, the Americanized version of this photograph would probably be a mixture of people, all holding American Flags. Instead of praising and saluting one man, they would probably be cheering for the troops sent oversees to fight in terrifying conflicts. In a way, you can think of America as being the opposite of the German nation at that time, trying to establish some of the same themes but with added nods to justice and the acceptance of all people.

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