Just finished watching this film in its entirety. Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will is probably remembered and will be remembered as the most controversial documentary/propaganda film of all time. I personally am not a big fan of “all time” statements but with this film you never know. I figured since I was watching on a computer and had some time to kill afterwards I’d state my initial reactions here.
First I understand why a class based around identifying and discussing different approach to modernism would include this wor. At the very least it asks many questions about what is art. We’ve already been exposed to the fringes of artistic definition with Duchamp and the Dadas but what this offers is that bridge connecting politics and art. What can be concluded or at least suggested from such a film is that art is not, and never was, a separate category. Art was and is always connected with the world in which it was created, thus the link between the highly politicized Germany and the newly invited modern art medium of film can be better established.
But is it art? here is where Benjamin’s piece, “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” really takes a stance. It isn’t good art, it represents the commercialized consumer art that is trying desperately to recreate the lost aura. We do not need that aura, so don’t feed us it! The aura died and with it an age of art, but not art itself.
Film and now digital electronic art are creating a new meaning, not a new aura but rather a new understanding of art and the role it plays. I believe here is where the idea of art as an interaction plays a large role, in my interaction with this film I did not find art, I found history, propaganda, and some beautifully framed shots. But beauty is by no means art.
So in my opinion, but that opinion only of the moment and subject to change upon my next interaction with this film, is that it is not art but propaganda, a category of objects that like to look like art in order to persuade the masses.