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This was a student film made by Sundance filmmaker Madeleine Olnek about Leni Riefenstahl’s 100th birthday. If you take it literally, it could be a little mean-spirited towards the old lady. I mean, Leni wasn’t that obviously smug in the interviews that served as reference. There’s a little more depth to her. I mean, she never said that shit about Helen Keller in real life. Poor little Leni. What an unfair portrayal.
But if you take this short film as satirical commentary on artists who contribute to certain regimes and then try to pull that “I didn’t know there were politics going on!” shit later, which is how I think this film is meant to be taken, it’s fucking hilarious. My favorite real-life moment on par with the absurdity in this clip comes from a famous 1979 interview with (utterly homoerotic) Nazi sculptor Arno Breker, whose work was hailed by Hitler as the antithesis to all so-called degenerate art. Journalist Andre Müller, considered one of the hardest interviewers of his generation, described the scene thus:
When he mentioned the tragic consequences of his professional activities under Hitler, his isolation and desperation, his wife trembled with laughter. When I asked her what she found so amusing, she replied that normally her husband spoke in a completely different way. During a stroll around the garden, where several sculptures dating from the National Socialist period were on display, she told me: “I don’t listen when he tries to discuss politics, it bores me.”
A macabre incident occurred when I asked the sculptor about his attitude toward the gassing of the Jews. Precisely at that moment, [Breker’s art dealer] inserted a new tape into his recorder and mistakenly pressed the play button, so that my words were accompanied by a few bars of dance music.
And no. I can’t read the words “Nazi” and “dance music” in such close proximity to each other without bopping my head to this song. It’s funny. It’s not funny.