« Hell/Carax/Tosches | Main | Gallagher/Tarantino/Tavernier/Lyttelton »

January 06, 2013

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e5523026f58834017d3f8e13e9970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Riefenstahl/Sontag/Nabokov/Monty Python:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Oliver_C

"The Teutonic reputation for brutality is well-founded: their operas last three or four days; and they have no word for `fluffy'."
-- Rowan Atkinson

(PS: It's 'BBC 1'. Only improperly-briefed al-Qaida sleeper cells would seriously refer to it as 'British Broadcasting Corporation's Channel One.')

Petey

That's really a superb post, Glenn. Will be on my list of Top Ten SCR Posts of 2013.

Petey

Also, a timely post for me, as I was mildly engrossed reading this Python retrospective this morning:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/01/the-beatles-of-comedy/309185/?single_page=true

Petey

Finally, you know you're building up, right? I challenge you to make the next post with five.

David Ehrenstein

Why don't you mention Kathy Bigelow, Glenn? She's the new Leni you know. Glenn Greenwald says so.

That Fuzzy Bastard

"Nobody making films today alludes to Riefenstachl..."

Oh fuck you, Susan---you're never even been in a room where televised sports (which endlessly quote Olympiad) are playing?

"...while many filmmakers (including myself)..."

OH FUCK YOU SUSAN!

Petey

"Why don't you mention Kathy Bigelow, Glenn? She's the new Leni you know. Glenn Greenwald says so."

I say so too.

And isn't this whole post pretty obviously about Kathy Bigelow absent explicit mention? Gotta learn to read subtext too, David. That gun in certain Westerns is a stand-in for something else, y'know...

Shawn Stone

To be fair to Sontag, Star Wars was still a twinkle in Lucas' eye in 1974.

Victor Morton

Any claim that Leni Riefenstahl is not influential is purely false.

As Mr. Bastard notes, OLYMPIA invented sports coverage as we now know it. Newsreels from earlier times showed few actual plays, rarely built up the game AS drama in own right, contented themselves more with narration and posed pre-game and post-game footage, and rarely used eccentric angles or camera placement to get INTO the action (there were technical limitations also that Riefenstahl only partly overcame).

As for TRIUMPH, it was influential in inventing a whole new genre of political communication — the photo-op. That pomo tool is what makes the debates of the post-war era through Sontag about whether TRIUMPH is *really* a documentary read so charmingly naive. That is to say, a photo-op is an event that is real and thus "documentary" -- Hitler or Obama or Thatcher or an alternate-universe President Romney really is giving a speech or visiting the flood victims or signing the bill or kissing the babies on the rope line. But it's also something staged in order that it be photographed for showing later to another audience (or as technology later allowed, shown simultaneously). Yes, Leni Riefenstahl invented political theater.

So, every time you turn on ESPN or CSPAN or the cable news networks, you are seeing Leni Riefnestahl's descendants. Where are Sontag's? (Or Vertov's, much as I love him. Remix culture, maybe?)

Victor Morton

Actually, let me take back that poke at Vertov. About this time last year, I watched STRIDE, SOVIET, which was intended to boost the case for the Bolsheviks at an upcoming Moscow municipal election. And it's a film that, despite being made in 1925, fits snugly into political rhetoric of today, and its resemblances to advertising.

Changing the proper nouns and Cyrillic lettering and STRIDE, SOVIET would fit in as 2nd-night material at either US party presidential convention, using footage of "real people" benefiting from everything the Bolsheviks had done. It felt like a Soviet version of Obama campaign's Julia film. I also remember even saying at the time that STRIDE played like a corporate apple-polishing film you get shown on the first day of the a new job, only you're working at Bolsheviks Inc. "It's as if Vertov had the 1925 Bolshevik account handed to him at Sterling Cooper and STRIDE, SOVIET is the resulting ad campaign."

andy

Speaking of Westerns (Petey), I thought it was about Tarantino's sanctimonious strawman bashing cum exploitation deluxe, particularly in regards to the racial buffoonery he either offers up for comment or--once it is in the hands of the masses, or at least the mass I saw it with--for the delectation and derision that white audiences have enjoyed minstrelsy with since, you know, whenever. After making the audience howl at Django's cluelessly preening sartorial choices and Steven's clueless mispronounciation of a word dem white folks got right two seconds before, is it any wonder that a guy behind me actually said, "She sure can hustle!" as the silly fat black woman high tailed it out of the mansion? No, no wonder at all.

Jeff McMahon

One of the big differences between Vertov and Riefenstahl is that (at least in my experience) the former gets taught in film schools, the latter doesn't, mostly by virtue of a sense of 'vulgarity'. But yeah, Riefenstahl dominates in the culture at large.

And there are plenty of filmmakers who qualify as 'the new Leni' over Bigelow - Michael Bay, Zack Snyder, hell, even J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson, or Spielberg. In fact, the more I think about it, that claim about Bigelow is nonsense. If we're talking about the use of filmmaking technique for vulgar ends, how about somebody who's made a mainstream box-office hit within the last 20 years?

David Ehrenstein

When Reagna infamously ;aid a wreath at the tomb of the S.S. officers at Bitburg the mise en scene copid "Triumph of the Will" precisely. Even the same song "I Had A Comrade" was used.

Victor Morton

"laid a wreath at the tomb of the S.S. officers at Bitburg"

No, he laid a wreath at a wall of remembrance in a German military cemetery that contained, as almost all do, SS officers. There was no SS-specific tomb.


"the mise en scene copied 'Triumph of the Will' precisely."

Only because the rotocols of heads of state laying wreaths at military tombs is pretty much the same everywhere. Obama laying a wreath at a Civil-War era Union cemetery would pretty much copy TRIUMPH OF THE WILL's mise en scene.


"Even the same song 'I Had A Comrade' was used."

That's a traditional German military air that antedates Bismarck. It's also used, to some degree, in the French military. It's about as Nazi as "Taps."

Other than that, a very informative and accurate comment.

Not David Bordwell

So, I tell Mrs. NDB I'm reading an interesting thread about Leni Riefenstahl, and she says, "That's LAY-nee, not LENNY -- we are talking about the German director, right?" And I say, "No, I mean the 8-hour mashup Syberberg did with Lenny Bruce's drug-addled ramblings over images from OLYMPIA." Mrs. NDB: "You're kidding, right?" And then I ordered three beers with my fingers instead of two fingers and a thumb and some SS asshole had us all shot.

SCENE.

Michael Webster

My first thought on reading all that was, "don't you get tired of kicking Tarantino?." Then I thought. Of course not, that's a pleasure that never gets old.

Not David Bordwell

"Yes, generally speaking the average German is not too pleasant a creature, but it is impossible to imagine anything more unpleasant than a German Lothario, a German who tries to be winsome..."

=Fredrick Zoller

There hasn't been a Hollywood movie, and really not since the German postwar anti-Nazi films, that more accurately depicted the way the Nazis used charm brutally and politeness to intimidate and dehumanize. Polite Nazis in earlier Ho'wood films were already coded as sadistic bastards (e.g., Col. Strasser in CASABLANCA).

Jeff McMahon

You mean Inglourious Basterds, right? Waltz's character in Django was, I figured, a refugee of the revolutions of 1848.

Not David Bordwell

Yes, indeed, JeffMCM. And our thoughts exactly about King Schultz.

I was referring to ALL the Nazis, though. Zoller is introduced as the Lothario before we know much about him, and Goebbels later compliments him on how his table banter has improved. And, of course, Shosanna has to endure all this politeness from Zoller AND Landa (and Goebbels, too, no?). The "take it with cream" scene is almost unendurable.

Petey

Call me crazy, but I think The Third Reich is Bolaño's best book outside of the Two Masterworks.

And the current (unanticipated by Bolaño) war of Germany upon Spain just adds to the frisson...

nrh

By Bolano's two masterworks I assume you mean "By Night in Chile" and "Nazi Literature in the Americas"?

To think that Sontag's essay was written a full two years before the release of "Salon Kitty," and only one year before "Ilsa She Wolf of the SS"!

Lex

Hitler probably never went 13 FUCKING YEARS without any PUSSY.

I should just COMMIT SUICIDE, all I want is some Pussy, just some Pussy and SHE WOULDN'T GIVE IT TO ME.

Someone tell fucking Wells to fix his blog so I can bitch about VAG and talk about HOW MUCH I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE teenage girls over there

Thanks.

SHEP SHEP

Petey

"To think that Sontag's essay was written a full two years before the release of "Salon Kitty," and only one year before "Ilsa She Wolf of the SS"!"

Yup.

-----

"By Bolano's two masterworks I assume you mean "By Night in Chile" and "Nazi Literature in the Americas"?"

Funny Ha Ha.

But the weird irony is that the foremost Fascist Filmmaker in the Americas of our era used to be married to the most populist and popular Lefty Filmmaker in the US since Frankie Roosevelt died. Love is strange.

I.B.

"And the current (unanticipated by Bolaño) war of Germany upon Spain just adds to the frisson..."

what

Petey

"what"

Aw, c'mon. In today's globalized world, is that really "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing"?

Spain is going through something every bit as bad, and something arguably quite worse, than the US did during the Great Depression. And all because of the policies of the Angela Merkel Chancellery. (Greece has it even worse, but unlike in Greece, Spain was utterly blameless prior to the Panic.) There are ways to wage war on the civilian populace of another nation besides bombs in a 'non-optimal currency zone'...

Jeff McMahon

Can we reserve the word 'war' for when armies/air forces/navies get used and humans actually die en masse? Words have meanings. Sheesh.

Petey

"Can we reserve the word 'war' for when armies/air forces/navies get used and humans actually die en masse? Words have meanings. Sheesh."

Words do indeed have meanings, even when the cirumstances get fuzzy.

Somewhere around 250,000 to 500,000 Iraqis died (en masse) between Gulf War I and Gulf War II due to economic sanctions. Was that war? Is intentionally keeping most Gazans on a 'starvation diet' for most of the past decade via economic sanctions war? Tricky, no? OTOH, the US has killed a few hundred civilians in Pakistan and Yemen via MILITARY drones over the past few years (not en masse)? Is that war?

Please compare and contrast carelessly targeted military drone strikes to non-military economic sanctions on a broad populace in a semantic discussion over the word 'war' while keeping in mind total human suffering. Your blue book will be due up at the desk in 90 minutes. You are not allowed to raise the card game 'war' in your essay. Spelling and grammar will factor into your final grade.

Bruce Reid

"Words have meanings. Sheesh."

Not Fascist, apparently.

I.B.

@Petey:

"Spain is going through something every bit as bad, and something arguably quite worse, than the US did during the Great Depression. And all because of the policies of the Angela Merkel Chancellery."

That's what I thought you mean. Except, as a citizen of this shithole (Spain), I'd say most of the troubles come not from the policies of Merkebbels, nefarious as they are, but from the rabid eagerness of our current government on embracing and outdoing such policies. True, they can't tell Angela to go fuck herself, but they could argue, go at it slowly... only that would be against their (and their corporate friends') interests, and they don't even try to disguise their glee.

"Spain was utterly blameless prior to the Panic"

Hehe. Blameless but for the daily news of corruption, tax evasion, outright theft, private interests that pocket the benefits for themselves and cover the losses with Teh Estate's money... No, no; again, the biggest enemies of Spain lie within. Alright, I guess. Nothing new under the sun.

Petey

"True, they can't tell Angela to go fuck herself, but they could argue.."

Well, no, actually. It's all been diktats. They can't argue with diktats. That's what makes them diktats.

(While they can't argue, the one and only thing they actually COULD do is declare a 5 day bank holiday and roll out pesetas on the other side. But there are varied incentives against that, which would take a far longer comment to weigh and properly assess.)

"No, no; again, the biggest enemies of Spain lie within."

The biggest enemies of Germany in the inter-war period seemed to lie within. But that scene was in Act II that came after the diktat in Act I that set the scene. No Versailles, no Hitler.

Germany could accept 4% or 5% inflation for a few years, as one minor relatively costless example, and the pain in the Spain would be a helluva lot less. Not as sexy as a shooting war, but a whole lotta unnecessary human suffering nonetheless...

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar
Blog powered by Typepad

Categories