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ERIC Number: ED355611
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-Jan
Pages: 27
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
"Triumph of the Will": A Limit Case for Effective-Historical Consciousness?
Schwartzman, Roy
A film presented as factual may permit critical responses that question its purported factual objectivity and political neutrality. In class, Hans-Georg Gadamer's concept of effective-historical consciousness can be used to evaluate the allegedly propagandistic messages in Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will." Analysis of this 1934 film reveals how it reinforced racial doctrines propagated by the Nazis and by scientists who sympathized with these racial views. Somewhat paradoxically, Riefenstahl's film may be considered a harbinger of two genres in film whose essences seem contradictory: documentary and propaganda. "Triumph of the Will" contains no narration whatsoever after brief introductory remarks. Not verbalized, these remarks are printed on successive screens in short phrases. This lack of narration reduces the critical distance between viewer and event. The opening scene features Adolf Hitler emerging from a plane to grace Nuremberg with his presence, and to rescue and transform Germany. Much of the film's power lies in its consistently positive approach to racial models: the Nordic ideal is instantiated throughout the film with lavish close-ups of handsome blond types. Gadamer argued that all interpretation takes place within the context of the interpreter's prejudice, but that awareness of prejudices does not imply subjection to them. As exercises in class, ask students to pick a specific scene and interpret it through the eyes of a propagandist for the opposing side; or, to undermine the principal theme of preceding scenes, screen part of the film, then ask students to construct the next scene that would proceed logically from the one they just saw. (Forty notes are included.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany