The Triumph of the Will

The Triumph of the Will, directed by Leni Riefenstahl in 1935, is a Nazi propaganda film chronicling the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. Riefenstahl shows hundreds of thousands of children and adults saluting and cheering as they see Hitler. The film shows small portions of many Nazi leaders speeches at the Congress. It is very apparent the film is attempting to depict that Germany has once again risen to be a great power, all thanks to the glorious leader Adolf Hitler.

There are many things I found intriguing about this film, however a scene that caught my attention was at the very beginning. As Hitler is being driven down the street in a motorcade, the cars slow down so that a mother and daughter can shake Hitler’s hand and give him flowers. It is obvious that these people were specifically selected for this event, due to the fact that there were so many people lining the streets watching the motorcade and none were able to approach except for this duo. I began to think why they were selected and what is the significance of this? Well, for one it depicts the perfect Nazi-German mother-daughter role. The woman’s husband is not with them, and I would assume he is either in the army fighting the war or fulfilling his Nazi duties elsewhere. The mother steps up to raise her child on her own, and in a sense Hitler fills the now empty father role for the child. He is the male figure the daughter now looks up to, which is depicted through the young childs’ salute.  This act is met with loud cheers from the crowd. I believe they were selected based on their appearance. The daughter is a perfect example of an Aryan. Although it was hard to see her eyes, it is obvious she has light skin and blonde hair.

Although this scene depicted the role a Nazi party woman should have- taking care of her children and praising Hitler- there is a serious contradiction to that party thought regarding the film. Leni Riefenstahl, the director, is a woman. My question is, why would Hitler chose her to produce and direct his propaganda film? Doesn’t that go against his traditional party beliefs regarding women?


2 thoughts on “The Triumph of the Will

  1. This was a very interesting blog post and I am glad that you pointed out this particular sequence in the film; it is, in a sense, a microcosm of the film’s structure. Aryan ideals pervade the film and occur in both obvious and subliminal instances. With regard to your question, it is my understand that Leni Riefenstahl was a prominent German director at the time of this film’s production. With that in mind, I would imagine that Hitler was willing to forego his patriarchal ideology if it meant putting this seminal propaganda project in the most capable hands available.

  2. This is a very interesting interpretation of this scene. It was fascinating how much of the film, such as this encounter was obviously staged however appearing to look natural, as if to show this supposed Aryan perfection. The speeches given by Nazi officials were among its few authentic moments. Traditional gender roles were certainly one of the recurring motifs of these staged scenes.

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