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Triumph of the Will and the Cinematic Language of Propaganda

This one is by popular request so ‘Triumph of the Will’ and the cinematic language of propaganda. ‘Triumph of the Will’ is not a triumph of film-making. I just want to lay that out before we even start. Chances are good that you’re familiar with ‘Triumph of the Will’ by reputation but have never actually watched it beyond referential clips, and a sizable portion of that reputation is in its value as an advancement of the art of filmmaking. This is propaganda. Like, that belief is in and of itself propaganda. Nazi sympathizers spent a lot of time between the film’s release in 1935 and the war promoting the idea of ‘Triumph of the Will’ as an advancement of filmmaking. It was an intentional message to promote Nazi state art as superior, to suggest that the Nazi mechanism can produce better more proficient art than the artist the Nazis were busy throwing in jail. It is however not a triumph of filmmaking; it is a triumph of budget. None of the ideas or techniques were new it is simply that no one had previously thrown enough money and resources at propaganda on this scale before. We’ll come back to this and develop it in more detail, but I want to be upfront with the fact that you should be highly suspicious of any messaging surrounding propaganda. ok so vocabulary groundwork: we’re going to make a distinction about what we mean when we say propaganda. Broadly speaking propaganda is just any goal-driven ideological message, and a lot of stuff incidentally falls under that umbrella. For example any official message from an activist community meets the literal definition. Signs encouraging you to, like, pick up after your dog. So the first thing that we need to make note of is the textural difference between the literal definition of propaganda and how people actually use the word. Contextually propaganda is used derisively, not merely used to describe the literal characteristics of some text or another, but carries with it a value judgments with the implicit understanding that propaganda is bad. Memetically, propaganda represents not just rhetoric but some degree of dishonesty: not an attempt to persuade but to deceive. Not an attempt to inform but to inflame. And even by this metric there’s still plenty that qualifies as propaganda from white nationalists spreading false statistics about crime to corporations trying to paper over the damage they do to bloggers being paid to pretend to like a video game. So what we’re going to do here is draw a fine line between propaganda and PROPAGANDA, the distinction being a difference between general propaganda and propaganda generated by and in service of governments. I feel like this is an important distinction to make because there is a potent contextual difference between, say, the propaganda tracts and memes spread by hate groups and those spread by the state. That distinction is order of magnitude. The sheer reach and spending power at the disposal of government is so far beyond the scope of even corporations that it’s a laughable comparison. The US federal government’s annual revenue is 3.6 trillion dollars. The largest corporation in the world, Walmart, sees an annual revenue of 482 billion dollars. The 10 largest corporations combined still fall almost a trillion dollars short. Global box office revenue comes in around 38 billion dollars, and Pirates of the Caribbean four is ranked as the most expensive movie ever made at 378 million dollars but on the scope of federal budgets, especially those related to the military, its budget is a rounding error. And this isn’t even touching on the power that government have to enact and enforce the underlying policies that propaganda supports. The point is that large, motivated governments can effortlessly outspend any other organized entity on the planet and as a result their potential for producing and disseminating propaganda exist on an entirely different plane of operation than any other form. When you add in the potential outcome, that propaganda influencing the lives of millions or even billions of people, the stakes to dwarf everything else. It is for this reason that we’re not going to be talking about propaganda in the abstract but rather is very specific kind of propaganda, and with that established Triumph of the Will Leni Riefenstahl film Triumph des Willens isn’t the beginning of propaganda, it’s not even the beginning of motion picture propaganda, heck it’s not even Riefenstahl’s first propaganda film for the Nazis, and i’m going to use that as a segue into some contextual history. In 1933 Riefenstahl documented the annual Nazi Nuremberg rally in the film Der Sieg Des Glaubens, Victory of Faith, however that film is significantly less well-known. Filmed at the August 1933 rally celebrating Adolf Hitler’s appointment to the position of chancellor of Germany in January of that year, the film heavily features founding Nazi Party leader Ernst Röhm. Röhm would be executed a year later in July 1934, during the Night of Long Knives, a sweeping ideological purge of socialist and working-class leadership in the Nazi party, after which it was ordered that all known copies of Victory of Faith be destroyed as part of an attempt at rewriting history, erasing Röhm’s contributions to the Nazi Party. Due to the high profile of many of the people killed in the purge it was impossible to cover up the illegal executions, so Hitler had the cabinet just make them legal after-the-fact. A month after the purge, August 1934, president Hindenburg died, and by the middle of August the roles of President and Chancellor were merged, making Hitler both the head of state and the head of government. With all of that in mind: a number of very high-profile crimes followed by a complete restructuring of the government, in September 1934 Hitler and his party had a vested interest in reinforcing the perceived legitimacy of the regime and preparing the populace for the wars that were to come. And to that end they hired Riefenstahl to make a second propaganda documentary at the now annual Nuremberg rally. Now let’s talk about the language of propaganda. From a filmmaking perspective propaganda uses all the same grammar as any other example of the medium. Contrast, association, implication, these are all the bread and butter of assembling any visual narrative. As an example we’re going to look at something a little lighter than Nazis and take a look at Return of the King. so Return of the King has a scene where Denethor has sent Faramir out to die on the battlefield and the film cross-cuts between the battlefield and the hall at the palace where Denethor’s having dinner. The three main things of interest are Denethor’s eating, Pippin’s singing, and Faramir’s riding. The film pays particular interest to the squishy sounds and sloppy process of Denethor’s eating, which when juxtaposed with Faramir’s suicide mission create thematic implications: that Denethor is a careless sloppy glutton who consumes the lives of the people around him. He discards his son’s life with same grace as he squishes a tomato. Where Pippin and Faramir are highlighted by their faces, their personages, Denethor is largely viewed from severe angles and segmented, reduced to his hands and his giant consuming mouth, a visual parallel matched by the deformed orc Gothmog. Denethor breaks bones and blood runs down his chin, images which are juxtaposed with the blood streaking the faces of the orcs preparing to slaughter Faramir’s troops. This is all compounded by Pippin’s song, which essentially just commentates the contrast as it happens. The messaging here is pretty straightforward: Denethor is villainized, a parallel is created between him and the orcs. Heck, if anything it’s ridiculously heavy-handed. The point of this example is to drive home the fact that there really is no difference in the editing grammar used in one genre versus another. The same process of creating implications, of villainizing or lionizing through juxtaposed imagery, works the same regardless. Where propaganda diverges is in the nuances of how the message is delivered. One of the sand traps of discussing ideology in cinema is the demand of narrative. Story, at least in the European tradition, requires conflict. characters must be flawed, they must make mistakes, their opponents must get the better of them. Things in some way shape or form need to get bad, need to entertain uncertainty. In Return of the King, a conventional story, Denethor’s actions must bring Pippin and Gandalf and Faramir low in order to create the tension that will be relieved later in the story when the conflict is resolved. However these basic mechanisms of narrative tension are at odds with the needs of propaganda, because weakness, failure, and uncertainty are anathema to the propagandist. The subject of propaganda has no arc but upward, they begin strong and stronger, they crush all that oppose them, their opposition is flimsy and victory is trivial. They win so much that the audience gets tired of all the winning. This is the point. Triumph of the Will is no different: it is interminable in its assertion of the strength of the Nazi Party, the promise of victory, and the uselessness of the opposition. Alright well actually it is a little bit more complicated. See propaganda does still require a worthy foe, or more accurately a foe that justifies the volume of force that the propagandist is trying to rally. Triumph of the Will, and Nazi ideology in general, is obsessed with both the unstoppable might of the party and the need for that unstoppable might to be levied against the paradoxically week degenerates who secretly control everything. Umberto Eco in his 1995 essay Ur-Fascism describes this particular ideological quirk: the followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies however the followers must be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemy’s thus by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy. Let’s back up and revisit previous accusation: Triumph of the Will is not a triumph of cinema, but of budget. One of the central arms of attack that Triumph of the Will uses is in its very essence, its existence as a grandiose, long, expensive, complex production. None of the filmmaking ideas used were new. putting a camera in the back of a car wasn’t new. tracking shots weren’t new. low angle shots weren’t new. aerial shots weren’t new. the only thing new was scope. Every scene goes on and on for minutes at a time. there aren’t a few aerial shots, there are hundreds. there’s not a camera observing the parade as it passes, there are dozens of cameras embedded in the very fabric of the parade. to the modern viewer it may seem aimless and shoddily paced, with montages that just go on and on and on long after the point has been made, but that’s the point. it is not merely a demonstration of presence but of volume. the indulgence of it, the conspicuous cost, is as much a message of the film as any other, intended to tell the viewer that the economic might of Nazi Germany is so great that even their propaganda is casually one of the most expensive productions to date. every visual implication of wealth strength and power is made and then repeated and repeated and repeated. Hitler descend from the majesty of the heaven. the old and weathered architecture of Nuremberg is peppered with Nazi icons, tying the new regime to the perceived wealth and stability of ages past. children gaze in awe their glorious humble leader, a man so blessed by the gods that even cats take notice of his passing. the Reich is juxtaposed with churches, with the pastoral calm of the rising sun, with efficiency, with a bounty of food, and, of course, with an endless supply of soldiers. troops march and march and march and march. the Nazi army does not merely exist it goes on and on and on and then on a little more after that. now there is no arc to the film because there is no conflict. “look at us we’re amazing.” there is no story, there is only message. oh it’s mostly lies by the way internally the Nazis were a mess. They had after all just assassinated a number of their own high-ranking officers and the army, which outnumbered the SA and SS, was still very much on the fence about their support for the regime following the death of Hindenburg. Germany was still very much at risk of tipping into a civil war between the Nazis in the Wehrmacht. the whole point of the rally was to make the film and the whole point of the film was to project an image of an unstoppable overwhelming wealthy happy fed and unified Nazi Germany to demoralize opponents and embolden supporters. in fact there’s a message back there that you probably wouldn’t even catch, that whole thing about the army. the actual german army, the Wehrmacht, is barely in the film. there’s one scene of cavalry being inspected but that’s about it. all the rest of that endless sea of troops are SA and SS troops which were organs of the Nazi Party not of the Armed Forces. it is a conscious exclusion meant to establish a pecking order between the Nazis and the Wehrmacht, to make the potentially disloyal members of the army feel small overwhelmed unimportant and outnumbered. Throughout the film the odious aspects of the Nazi ideology, the concentration camps which had already been operating for a year by that point, the political assassinations, the racism, these are all downplayed or absent, left unstated. the message is clear and singular we are strong and prosperous and anything we choose to do is justified because it works and religious imagery has been tapped to consecrate that justification with divine favour. historically this is also where we start to really see the public beginning of Nazi paganism with a parade of Nazi flags being ceremonially consecrated by touching them to the Blutfahn, a flag that they claim had been carried by the Nazis killed during the beer hall putsch. Now the relationship between the Nazis and religion is super complex and interesting and you should definitely look into it lots of books out there on the subject but if you can get your hands on a copy definitely check out the Urania’s Children it’s a really interesting short read about astrology that’s been out of print for decades and The Occult Roots of Nazism. The short of it is that Nazism was a theological goulash. They made heavy use of Christian symbology and tried to turn the numerous German churches into an organ of the party through the Confessional Church, but this was largely a means to an end. they didn’t tap into Christian imagery because they shared Christian values, they did it because those images have emotional meaning to the people. simultaneously to this they were co-opting any religious symbols that they felt supported their own claim to power, adopting the disparate trappings of both Odinism and Hinduism. This goes just as well for their approach to science and their embrace of pseudoscience: it doesn’t matter what form it comes in as long as it reaches the desired conclusion. In the words of Hannah Arendt science is only a surrogate for power. This is actually important: one of the main mechanisms of propaganda is to plant the idea of precedence, to alter the audience’s own sense of history and the world and appeal to the seemingly objective authorities of God, History, and Science. one of the most common use of propaganda is to make new institutions seem much older than they really are by injecting themselves and their ideas into history, what Umberto Eco described as a cult of tradition. Nazi architecture is monumental in design, evocative of classical Greek and Roman. Triumph of the Will places the new Nazi Party alongside centuries-old churches Nazi eschatology dredges up old Norse runes to suggest an unbroken pure lineage between the ancient & the present. Nazi pseudoscience says that the murder of Jews and Roma is acceptable because of blood. The point of it all is to center the party in every aspect of life, to make the party the mouthpiece of the gods. this is why there’s all that bunk about Riefenstahl being a visionary director the legacy of Triumph of the Will is muddled because it was intentionally muddled. The party was trying to inject itself into everything, into history, into art, into religion. They made their own movie and had their own critics praise it, to make it important. despite being funded entirely by the government, Triumph of the Will was released commercially, to distance it from the party just enough to add a patina of legitimacy, to suggest that Riefenstahl had captured something unique and organic. And it worked. To this day we continue to use Triumph of the Will as our reference point for the mental construct of the Nazi regime. Which I want you to think about that. Our idea of the Nazis is deeply informed by a propaganda film produced by the Nazis for the explicit purpose of creating that mental construct. This right here is exactly the image they wanted you to think of when you thought of them.

100 Replies to “Triumph of the Will and the Cinematic Language of Propaganda”

  • I find it ironic that those of you who scoff at this as mere propaganda fail to realize that the entirety of your education about World War II is also propagandistic and designed to deter you from exploring the National Socialist's positions and ideals in any critical way. After all, history is written by the victors, and they have their own version to maintain.

  • Good job, much to think deeply about. Definitely should make one discern and learn from all types of propaganda, good or bad. However, it seems to me that when one tries to tell a particular story, whether grounded in true history or just legend/myth, that story will usually be somewhat guilty of promoting an 'agenda' or, in this case, propaganda, especially when it comes to promoting values and a system of ethics, etc. I mean, isn't all story telling and history a type of 'propaganda' to be used for ill or good by the masses? This video is great and keeps me thinking about how to be more critical of the government and those in power, even those you may happen to agree with politically and socially. He should do a video on the propaganda of Socialism and Communism, I bet that would be awesome.

  • Wow. I've watched this video before, but Trump's campaign proclamation "You're gonna get tired of all the winning" becomes a lot more chilling. Not that it was all that positive beforehand…

  • Exactly how the current system is being used in places all over Europe America and Australia only this time they are socialists.

  • Very interesting and well made video. Although it's very interesting and funny when non-german speakers try to pronounce german words and names.

  • It’s well made, camera shots and all, as well as well recieved by Sergei Eisenstein. I prefer Olympia though and LeninRiefenstahl wasn’t good with dramatic narrative, a bit hammy

  • Great video example of modern propaganda to contrast 20th century propaganda, I le see what you le did there fellow gamers! xdd

  • You make a fair point about the scale of Governments vs corporations, but your numbers are off. The $3.6 trillion is the US federal budget….not revenue. Revenue is whatever profit is left after expenses. So comparing budget to profit doesn't make sense. You'd need to compare the Walmart budget (around $1 trillion/yr), i.e. their profit(revenue) + their operating expenses. So your point still stands, but the numbers you quoted are an apples to oranges comparison.

  • Have you any other videos on propagandists, say Hollywood propagandists, or is it just governments, in particular, Nazis who have engaged in it?

    Is the novelty of camera techniques in a film the only gauge of whether a film is ground-breaking? You seem to imply it.

  • wow, now i know more about propaganda, than the school have teached me. Cool video, perfectly made. What I also wanted to say, your German was very good. It's not easy to pronounce. You get a 1+! Good wishes from austria!

  • I really appreciate how in the description he subverts clickbait titles completely and has a satirical clickbait title but you actually have to be interested enough to read the description to see it, this is the first time I’ve noticed a clever subversion so give me some slack.

  • Is it weird that the main thing I got out of this video was relief? I feel like Ingrid Bergman learning her husband really has been fucking w/ the lights all along.

    (my intro to Riefenstahl was that 3 hr doc, we watched it in an 8th grade German class that had a not-insignificant number of Jewish kids, myself included)

  • The comment in the video about how even after the Night of the Long Knives, also called the Rohm Purge, that the army wasn't behind the Nazis and the state was still close to a Civil War is simply wrong.Before the Night of the Long Knives there had been steadily increasing tension between the SA, (Storm Troopers), and the Army. Rohm basically wanted the Storm Troopers to replace the Army and there was also a push within the Nazis, by certain groups, (Mainly Storm Troopers led by Rohm), for a "Second Revolution". This was anathema to the Army and many conservative elements in German society. The Army had been telling Hitler for months to do something about Rohm and his Storm Troopers. Hitler had been slowly moving against him. But a few weeks before the Night of the Long Knives, the Army, led by President Hindenburg told Hitler that if he didn't do something about it, they would take over and institute martial law. Hitler and his associates had been putting together a plan for months, gathering lists of people to murder and arrest, and not just Storm Troopers but many known opponents or former opponents including Conservatives and even a retired General. The virtual ultimatum caused Hitler to carry out the action a bit sooner than anticipated but with the cooperation of the Army.In the resulting bloodbath, many people who had annoyed Hitler in the past were killed along with a retired General and his wife, along with much of the SA leadership, including Rohm. The Army was implicated in this atrocity, which it helped to bring about, along with the murder of some German army officers. The response of the Army leadership was satisfaction in the liquidation of the SA has a threat and the armies complicity in the crimes bound it even more tightly to Hitler. The result was there was close to zero opposition to Hitler becoming President and merging that office with that of Chancellor, in fact the Army almost entirely approved. And the requirement that Hitler instituted that the Army officers make personal oaths of loyalty to Hitler generated virtually no opposition to Hitler.The Rohm purge made the army even more complicit with the crimes of the regime and further it was a long step in the process of the subordination of the Army to the regime. By the time this film was made the Army was, willingly, and loyally largely subordinate to the regime. The Army had blood on it's hands including that of German Army Officers and was bound to the Nazis by shared crimes.After the war many of German Generals wrote many, many memoirs which claimed they never liked the regime and were not tainted by it's crimes or general wickedness. This literature is largely self serving and full of lies.

  • Was forced to watch this in class. Was bored by the film and disgusted by the subject matter. Thank you so much for this video. It's a relief to know I was right all along and that others feel the same way.

  • it is strange thinking how more than 70 years after the Nazis were defeated we still see them in some ways the way they wanted people to see them. Also, we still talk about them so much after all these years on TV , the internet and so on. They would have probably have got some sort of satisfaction out of that.

  • "White nationalists spreading false statistics about crime"
    I didn't know the FBI was a white nationalist organization in the business of perjuring it's own findings to slander some minorities but not others. That'd be pretty weird.

  • There's now a paywall for the NY Books' copy of Ur-Fascim by Umberto Eco, so I thought I'd find a direct pdf link. For anyone and everyone:

  • It reminds me of the Nixon Kennedy TV. debate. Nixon won the debate on radio but lost on TV by visials alone.

  • It remineds me of Lenin and Stalin against religion but Putin is useing the Rissian orthadox church to his suit his image.

  • Honestly… that point where you mention how the winners keep winning and the opposition is poultry in comparison… sounds a lot like what i felt when watching Captain Marvel

  • I do love these videos, but I can't not respond to this.

    "They used Christian imagery, not because they shared Christian values, but because they know the feelings that are tied to them" is simply an assertion without basis. The vast majority of Germany was Christian at the time. Hitler was an unashamed Christian. The disassociation of the Christian norms promoted by the Nazi party is not just disingenuous it's dangerous. Being religious does not make you a good person even if it is the correct religion that you happen to believe in (no I'm not saying Christianity is the right one or that there is a right one, but that even if it /hypothetically/ is the correct one it is irrelevant). It does not help people to pretend that anyone "evil" must not have held Christian beliefs especially when they not only professed to them, acted with them in mind, came from a culture steeped in the religious mindset that they claim to believe, and had the power to minimize their usage of said religion. This is a no true scottsman argument and is simply fallacious without /significant/ proof to back it up. We have a long historical record of both people being of the Christian faith that did many horrible things such as Mafioso's, the pro-segragationists and anti-abolistionists, and Maria Theresa (yeah, no matter how many times people pretend she was good she abused the people under her care and caused many deaths). That is not to say that belief in any religion let alone Christianity specifically makes people do bad things or to not do good things because belief in any religion is so individual that it means functionally nothing to simply say someone was a Christian past the basic outlines of that faith (Just /try/ to come up with a specific doctrine for all of the different denominations that's significantly more than the roughest outline of the biblical story. By that I mean honestly that they believe there was a person named Jesus born in Jerusalem who claimed to be the prophet of god, died for the sins of the world, and came back, but then went eventually to heaven and promised to come back. There are arguments about which bible to use, what are metaphorical or literal portions, how that impacts how people should act today, and what if anything can be ignored like the ban on mixed fabrics). My point is it is not useful to promote the modern wishful thinking that "oh Hitler was a bad guy so he must have been an atheist" or any variation thereof. I'm sorry if you don't like someone who claims or claimed a certain religious belief, but that doesn't suddenly mean they don't or didn't believe it. Now if you mean in the sense that the nazi party didn't have Christian values I'm sorry to tell you this, but they did. The thing with their form of religious ideology is that they wanted to present a version that rewrote Judaic elements and people into either non-existant or into the role of being "evil" much like how the Romans prefered the revisionist version that made them no longer seem as evil and instead threw jewish people under the bus. Now did they incorporate beliefs and symbols from other religions? Yeah, but that doesn't make them not have Christian values at all. Christian "values" aren't concrete and incompatible with other religions because again, the religious beliefs of Christianity are so personal that to talk about it in the overarching sense is nearly meaningless, but also those values have changed with society. For example many (but not all) Christian churches allow for women to speak in church even though every version of the bible I'm aware of says that's not allowed. We don't allow jewish people to buy slaves from the people they've concurred or to allow them to enslave jewish women and children or men via the terrible coercion of keeping their wives hostage if they had a kid before their time of "indentured servitude" was finished. Also we no longer have rules about how to treat women who were raped that differ depending on if they were married, unmarried, in a city, or out in the countryside (Fyi on of those combinations lead to the woman being forcibly married to the rapist, another got her killed, and another got the rapist to pay a fine to her father). Also, the Christian religion in the sense of it commanding that "thou shallt not take another god before me" does not forbid someone believing in another religion that doesn't have any gods (such as Buddhism) and many readings of the bible seem to indicate that in fact it promotes a sense not that the Christian god is the only god, but rather asserts that he is the greatest of the gods and also a jealous af one (For Jealousy "is his name"). So it could be that there are Christians perfectly willing to take on religions with a diety as simply a way to worship lesser gods. In fact if someone were to be quite literal about the law they could have a goddess or non-gendered diety that they worship as higher than the Christian god, but that's a point of personal amusement. So, the long and short of that is that the party can have more than one set of religious ideologies as part of it as they aren't mutually exclusive (hell just look at how most asian countries adopted Christianity if you need more direct proof).

  • Do an analisys about the propaganda "documentary" Leaving Neverland, made with the intention to spread the lies and destroy Michael Jackson's legacy.

  • I am almost certain that at the beginning you saying “So this video is by popular request” and then a big sigh making it seem like a dutiful obligation is a subtle wink to a very effective form of propaganda and I love it and this video and you very much

  • Documentary movie can be propaganda? Yes, subtitles of the first seconds were pure propaganda but rest of the film shows that what really happened.

  • Hi, I've been a fan of this channel for a while. I was rewatching this video and it struck me that you have a talent for conveying this kind of serious topic in a way that sticks with the viewer and that doesn't fall into flippancy. I think this might be the best video you've made. Perhaps you'd consider making more videos about films of historical significance and not only about contemporary cinema?


  • Maybe it wasn't an artistically innovative film, but it certainly is perhaps the best propaganda movie ever made. It is extremely effective and achieved it's artistic goals in presenting the Nazis as almost superhuman. The way shots of the rally's were set up and how Hitler was presented, it's impossible not to be fascinated by it. It's a very mesmerizing film

  • "They used Christian imagery, not because they shared Christian values, but because they know the feelings that are tied to them" I clicked this video to watch a documentary about the Nazis, not the republican party (parties) of the USA.

  • This is merely the propaganda of a sociopath attempting to distort history and impose his narrow-minded views.

  • Kind of having your cake and eating it to in this video. To say Triumph of the Will is nothing more artistically than a over-budgeted propaganda film recycling existing film techniques misses the point entirely. What makes the film so influential was the aesthetic monumentality Reifenstahl was able to affect precisely because she had the budget to widen, and demonstrate, the scope of what was possible in filmmaking (through its reification of all those film techniques via scope). For example, a tracking shot might not have been new. But a tracking shot of a capable orator in a virtual colosseum of light at night speaking to a million followers who's emotional enchantment to the speaker is captured by close up visuals of their facial reactions was NEW. Having state backing and therefore a large budget doesn't negate this; it simply confirms Hegel's point that "quantity becomes quality". The fact that this was in line with Hitler's intentions for how Germany and the world would perceive the party also doesn't make it any less significant. It just speaks to the fact that Hitler absolutely had an eye for aesthetics, something that is typically lost in the need to constantly denigrate him and render him an 'unperson' (this isn't a call for denying his responsibility). Reifenstahl's quote about her initial meeting with Hitler to film the rally captures this perfectly.

    And, ironically, this connects into the duality theme you bring up regarding Nazi enemies at 10:29. The same can be said of historical perceptions of the Nazis today, especially Hitler. Hitler is simultaneously an incompetent, racist, delusional, hypocritical, degenerate madman — leading an equally bankrupt and inept party, as you say — but also an evil genius that somehow deluded the masses into fanatical loyalty and out maneuvered the Great Powers of the day to conquer most of the European continent. Similarly, the juxtaposition to the diminutive perception of the Nazi party as a polycratic and dysfunctional organization is their incredible technocratic proficiency for social organization, rearmament, war, and mass murder.

  • A wise person can consider an idea without accepting it.

    Regardless of what you think of Triumph of the Will, you cannot deny its impact. You are talking seriously about a movie that was released in 1934. You didn't choose to do a video about The Wizard of Oz or the Jazz Singer, both equally impactful films. You chose to talk about Nazi propaganda. Which by all accounts is social media poison nowadays.

  • 12:30 "A man so blessed by the Gods that even cats take notice of his passing.." Good eye. That shot alone perfectly illustrates the absurdity of cinematic propaganda.

  • Wow
    >talks about lies used as form of propaganda
    >uses false information to form of propaganda lies of his own.

  • Wasn't the Night of Long Knives also carried out to appease Hindenberg, since Hitler told him he was just killing the more "ruffian" elements of the Nazis? God, that guy sucked.

  • I was so leftist when I was younger.. now I'm totally fine with people from both or no political agenda. Any idea that a certain type is superior without paying time and attention to understand the values and reasoning of other people is just such an adolescent thing to do.. the Triumph of Will is a great fucking movie thou. :))) I also love the Fast and the Furious series so don't hate on me fam! The key to understanding and appreciating something without becoming cringe or weird is to understand the context and perspectives of the culture that it is associated with. Cheers! don't be triggered pls. I do not mean to offend ppl and I am not saying the nazis are a great example in general, just chill and learn to appreciate things.

  • German Christian Church, not Confessional Church. The Confessional Church was the evangelical Lutheran movement that opposed Naziism and sent many martyrs to the camps.



  • Big thanks for labeling the image at 2:37 as false. More people should do it when they show such things in order not to help them share those images. Just put something on the image so it becomes useless to those who originally spread it

  • Not to excuse the later horrors of the Nazi regime but in 1934, this was a popular movement, the mass killing was five years away – and ToW's director was a woman who cleverly applied her prior knowledge of feature film production techniques to a state funded documentary. To put into current perspective, pre-war Nazi Germany was similar to modern China. Camps, no rule of law, etc.

  • 15:25 …that wouldn't be the Confessional Lutheran Church, would it? The sect that was somewhat related to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the heavily German church I grew up in? 😳

  • Thank you. I am downloading "Der Sieg des Glaubens" now. I was unaware of it. It also never specifically occurred to me that the Reichswehr and Nazi opposition in general were actual targets of Triump. The timing, after the Reichstag Fire and basically after the death of Hiddenburg is interesting. Hitler had already taken several huge steps to consolidate power. That this film was made to push through the middle of the Nazi takeover of German society is very interesting. Thank you!

  • 13:25 the army did not yet outnumber the SA as the SA was about 1,000,000 men and the army was still restricted to 100,000 under the treaty of Versailles despite an certain amount of secret rearmerment

  • thanks to modern video games, now the most commonly imagined Nazi is either a generic enemy to kill, or a dead generic enemy.

    Unless we're talking about modern Nazis.

  • I might have missed you saying it but Leni Riefenstahl's film is considered a master piece. Why? Because all of the camera angles you see were had never been done before. She was the first director to do shots from the tops of tall buildings, for instance. Her camera angles are still the standard today. Her politics might have been wrong, but she knew her kraft.

  • I'm posting this two years later but sadly it looks like the link provided for "Ur-Fascism" is no longer free :/

  • Those budget numbers though? .. it's not like you can break them down quite like that into what goes towards "propaganda".. .. . But. I say that just because we're all a little bit tired of the fake news thing…
    This should read more to people, judging by the comments, that we ARE more aware.. not that we are manipulated mice…
    So it's not as sad, if we realize we can hear voices like this, above the noise..
    PS… Mein Kampf and Hitler's image was already a major monetized and big earner for funding all of this… . So.
    People who draw analogies, should watch what they are spending time and money on these days.. every Trump joke is a clinck in someone's cash box.. and vice versa. Obama shoppbags were an abomination actually.. and his peace prize came…? As soon as he was elected..!?
    I'd love for the world to be balanced.. but watching how things unfold..
    It's a difficult media and entertainment time to be living in.
    The channel suggestions are one example of how this operates

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