Monday, March 01, 2004

Oscars honor Hitler's propaganda filmmaker 

I've been meaning to mention this since last night, when I saw it. Every year, the Oscars honor people from the film industry who have died in the past year. It's a touching montage with snippets from the people's careers. Well, last night, during the montage, the Academy honored Leni Riefenstahl.

She heard Hitler speak at a rally in 1932 and offered her services as a filmmaker, because she was mesmerized by his powers as a public speaker. In 1933 she directed a short film about a Nazi party meeting. Then Hitler asked her to film the Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg in 1934. Initially she refused, suggesting that Hitler have Walter Ruttmann film it instead. Riefenstahl later consented, and made Triumph of the Will, a documentary film glorifying Hitler and widely regarded as one of the best pieces of propaganda ever produced, even though Riefenstahl herself claims she had intended it solely as a documentary. She went on to make a film about the German Wehrmacht.
I can't imagine that the Academy was unaware of this part of Riefenstahl's past. So why honor her? Does Hollywood have a low to which they won't stoop?

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Leni Riefenstahl used gypsies from a concentration camp in one of her films. What a lovely person, worthy of being honored on the movie industry's largest stage, eh?
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