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Triumph of Tragedy and Victory of Faith

Hitler was enabled to commit such atrocities due to the success of propaganda employed as a weapon of mass distraction, successful in manipulating many Germans. Thus when a film like Triumph of the Will is touted as “documentary”, one must look deeper than its surface to discover the cinematic techniques being used to reinforce Hitler’s and Nazi Germany’s propaganda. Unlike propaganda films, a documentary is a piece of work representing political, social, or historical subjects in a factual manner and informative manner. In an interview by Professor David James, professor of International Film Study at the University of Southern California, James’ claims that a proper documentary should present facts in an objective manner free of prejudice. He also maintains a documentary should not mix fact with fiction, “The truth presented in a documentary should be the whole truth, not just a bias presentation of selective information” (James 2003).

In Triumph of the Will, however, Riefenstahl constructs reality so masterfully that objectivity disappears. Hence, documentaries can be bias and an attempt at manipulation by the filmmaker to portray reality from their vision of it. Riefenstahl used thirty-two cameramen and over one hundred other technicians, in addition to special arrangements like the construction of lifts that could raise cameramen to heights of 120 feet and concrete pits in front of the speakers’ platform. The director even put cameramen on roller-skates and used elaborate tracking rails from which cameras could catch or follow any movement, (Barnouw 1993, 89). Around the time of the film’s release, the idea that self-expression is the true function of art and that it should not be an influence of everyday social or political concerns gained acceptance. Nevertheless, in light of the historical uses of artistic expression, it seems rather naïve to expect that an invention like film could remain untouch...

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Triumph of Tragedy and Victory of Faith. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:40, July 22, 2017, from
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