Olympia, 1938

March 22nd, 2006 · No Comments · Artists


German filmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, a documentary of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, is a difficult film for most people. First and foremost it is a celebration of the human body, and the concentration involved in the execution of human movement. Secondly, its bold editing transforms Olympic sports into allegories of hope. The film ends with soaring divers who are edited so they fly in the air, never landing in the water: a fantastic vision of human potential.

Unfortunately, the humans do eventually land in the water, even if the film removes it. Nazi swastikas, a symbol hard to ignore, generously appear in many scenes and cast a dark shadow over this film despite possible innocent intent. Since the Nazi’s historically took advantage of good intentions, the potential innocence might always seem suspicious.

I rank it number 66 of my top films of all time, behind Lawrence of Arabia and ahead of Annie Hall.

Category: Artists

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