Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 3rd, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Germany, March 28th, 1935
Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Writers: Leni Riefenstahl, Walter Ruttmann
DVD released: March 28th, 2006
Approximate running time: 114 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Windowboxed
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono German
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $34.95
In 1934 Paul Joseph Goebbels the Third Reich’s minister of Public Enlightenment would hire filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to direct a film that revolved around the a Nazi rallying party in Nuremberg. Leni Riefenstahl would spend the next year perfectly piecing together what is now considered the most manipulative propaganda film ever made.
Documentaries are often overlooked as works of art even when they often employee and introduce new technique into the filmmaking media. Every inch of Triumph of Will was meticulously constructed to evoke a certain reaction. The Nazi party who had gained control only a few years before the making of Triumph of the Will quickly learned from past régimes mistakes that they best way to get the public on their side would be through a new powerful media known as motion pictures. Year’s later film has to some extent been replaced by an even more powerful media television which continues on a daily basis to spread propaganda only this time it is sent subtly via the evening and cable news.
History has labeled Leni Riefenstahl a propagandist filmmaker and one has to wonder if this is only because the side she sided with lost. Would she and this film be looked at in a different lit if Germany had won the war. One must also take into consideration that when this film was being made that the war was still fours years away and that no concentration camps had been erected yet. To fully blame Leni Riefenstahl who was unbelievably only thirty three years old when this film was made for what was to follow in Hitler’s rise to power is the easy way out. When creating a film whether it is based on fact or fiction the filmmaker should bear some of the moral responsibility that their creation has spawned.
Synapse Films presents Triumph of the Will in a Windowboxed aspect ratio that preserves the films original aspect ratio. There are some instances of nicks and scratches, still nothing that ever is too distracting. Contrast and sharpness very from scene to scene as black levels remain strong and look solid through out. Overall for a film that was seventy years ago this transfer while not flawless does look remarkable considering its age.
This release comes with only one audio option the films original German language and it is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There is noticeable hiss and distortion that is present through out the entire film. Overall the soundtrack is more then serviceable and since subtitles have been included it more then makes up for the audio mixes shortcomings. Removable English have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for this release include a text essay about Triumph of the Will written by Roy Frumkes. Other extras include a seventeen minute short film also directed Leni Riefenstahl titled “Day of Freedom”. This short is essentially a collection of images of armed forces in various battle sequences and while not as powerful as Triumph of the Will it is still a worthy addition to this release. The main extras for this is an audio commentary historian Dr. Anthony R. Santoro who knowledge of the film and his analysis of various images in the film makes for one of the most interesting audio commentaries you will ever listen too.
Suppressing films like Triumph of the Will out of fear that someone might be inspired by what they see is irresponsible since Triumph of the Will is an important historical documentary that should be seen by as many people as possible instead of ignoring its existence like so many countries’ have done for so many years.