There is already so much written and said about Leni Riefenstahl, but everybody is equally impressed by her photographs and films.
My friend wanted to go to Leni Riefenstahl’s funeral (she passed away at the age of 101, september 8,2003), because he was a great admirer of her work and wanted to pay his respect to her and I had no clue who he was talking about… I bought the dvd ‘The wonderful, horrible life of Leni Riefenstahl’ by Ray Muller and got fascinated by the person and her work. If you want to have a great overview of her life and work, watch this movie!
Leni Riefenstahl was an extreme aesthetics, a German woman aesthetics around the time of WWII, when Germany was reigned by the very disturb madman Adolf Hitler, who got interested in her work and her aesthetic view on people. She was so eager to work, make movies and photographs, she took up his offer to work for him and that was the biggest mistake she would ever make and had to pay for this mistake the rest of her life. Her infamous, brilliant documentaries Triumph des Willens and Olympia got her associated with the Third Reich and she spent the rest of her life trying to get away from this association.
After WWII she lived with her mother in a little appartement in Germany for years. In the 1960s Riefenstahl became interested in Africa from Hemingway’s book and from the photographs of George Rodger. She travelled to Sudan and lived with the Nuba tribe for years. Her registration of the Nuba tribe is mesmerizing.
This photograph by George Rodger shows two muscular wrestler of a Nuba tribe in Kordofan, Southern Sudan. It was taken in 1949, during Rodger’s journey across Africa which he made to escape the traumas of the Second World War. The impact of this photograph has a melancholy ending. This famous Despite Roger’s unwillingness to reveal the whereabouts of the tribe to German filmmaker and photographer Leni Riefenstahl, the latter discovered their location some fifteen years later. In the 1970s, her photographs of the Nuba people were published throughout the world and attracted more people to the area. The Sudanese government subsequently encouraged the oppression and displacement of Nuba tribes because they wrongly suspected them of unified alliance to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
The Nuba tribe by Leni Riefenstahl
In her 70s she wanted to film and photograph the underwater world and had to lie about her age to get a scuba diving certification . Years ago I found the book Jardins de Corail….
Leni Riefenstahl’s life would have been totally different if she had never been associated with the Third Reich (after WWII she was arrested but released without any charges).. She would be remembered by her beautiful work, innovations as a filmmaker and as the greatest female filmmaker of the twentieth century.