Ray Muller

German actor and director.

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993) -- Leni Riefenstahl, director of Triumph of the Will and Olympia most famously, was a woman who was hired to do a job which was unfortunately for Hitler and which unfortunately she did a beautiful job at.  The moviemakers of this documentary are very smug in 1993 with all their goddamn hindsight.  Even if Ray Muller and others don't know it, this documentary -- if nothing else -- shows that Riefenstahl is an artist and nothing else.  So she filmed a National Socialist Party convention beautifully.  "Nazi" wasn't synonymous with evil at the time, and Hitler's speeches weren't exactly about killing Jews or the Aryan race: they were about peace, primarily.  Triumph of the Will feels more like a document than a propaganda film, even if it happens to be the document of a party that was abhorrent.  The fact that people have claimed that Olympia is a celebration of the "purity" of the Aryan race only suggests their own racism; she was just filming athletes.  In spite of the fact that Ray Muller's documentary makes me mad--as does history's treatment of Riefenstahl herself, denying us not only a great director but a great woman director who might have paved the way in a field that ignores women to this day--it does a good job of covering her entire life (not just the Nazi stuff).  The best moments are when she talks about how she created her films, especially how she edited them.  You can see her influence in the better documentary makers of today, such as Errol Morris.  It's also fun to see her try and take over Ray Muller's job and tell him how to shoot the movie she's in (and she's always right).  This is a case where the movie itself isn't all that great since the director isn't that great, but the subject matter makes it very good. B

Copyright (c) Jan 2006 - Feb 2006 by Rusty Likes Movies