Sunday, May 10, 2009

Der Sieg des Glaubens (1933)

Der Sieg des Glaubens (English: Victory of Faith) is the first documentary film directed by Leni Riefenstahl, who was hired despite opposition from Nazi officials that resented employing a woman — and a non-Party member too. Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the Nazi Party, which occurred in Nuremberg from August 30 to September 3 in 1933.

Like her Nazi documentaries of 1935, the short Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces) and the classic propaganda feature Triumph of the Will, Der Sieg des Glaubens documents the Fifth NSDAP Congress in a straight chronological format. It has no voiceover commentary and few explanatory titles. The activities captured by Riefenstahl's cameras include the welcoming of foreign diplomats and other party members and politicians at the Nuremberg train station; Adolf Hitler's arrival at the airport and his meeting with important party members; massive SA parades; and Hitler's speech on the tenth anniversary of the German National Socialist movement.

  • This film includes Ernst Röhm, head of the Nazi Party "Brownshirts" and heir-apparent to the Head of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Worker's Party). In June 1934, suspecting a coup, Röhm and several of his lieutenants were assassinated under Hitler's orders. All references to Röhm were ordered to be erased from German history, which included the destruction of all known copies of this film. The film Triumph des Willens (1935) was produced to replace it.
  • Director Leni Riefenstahl was visiting Great Britian in April 1934, to speak at major universities to discuss her documentary film techniques. It is during this visit that at least one copy of this film is known to have been duplicated. It was found after being in storage for over 60 years, and is the only known surviving print. The opening credits appear to have been shot off of a screen projection, but the remainder of the footage appears to be a direct copy of a print.
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