Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" on DVD
Ever since Susan Sontag linked Riefenstahl's Nazi "documentaries" (the films were, in fact, as carefully staged as any Hollywood feature) with their geometrically arranged goose-stepping soldiers to the extravagant fantasies of Berkeley's mammoth dance numbers, many critics have assumed a kinship between the filmmakers.
Berkeley's abstract musical numbers, with their own geometric patterns and tendency to absorb individuals into standardized, idealized groups, seem to apply the characteristics Sontag listed in her essay "Fascinating Fascism": situations of control, submissive behavior, endurance of pain, domination through pageantry, turning people into things, multiplications and "orgiastic transactions between mighty forces and their puppets." Rather than smartly tailored military uniforms, Berkeley placed his performers in scanty costumes that emphasized the symmetry of legs and bosoms; the uniform platinum wigs that many of his chorines wore invite comparison with the caps and helmets of Hitler's massed forces at the Nuremberg rallies filmed by Riefenstahl in 1934 (filmed one year after Berkeley's best film for Warner Brothers, "Footlight Parade").
The resemblances are striking ....
comments powered by Disqus
- Economist disputes Nial Ferguson's claim that the Fed is to blame for the stock market’s volatility
- Hero Marine Dad Will Unleash Hell Itself If Daughter’s World History Class Says Muslims Are Real
- Historians Against the War joins peace activists in pressing Congress to support a diplomatic solutions to conflict with Iran over nukes
- Despite new hires, Yale history department retains vacancies
- African-American Professor: Reagan Did More To Help Black Education Than Obama