The Biased Gaze: Leni Riefenstahl’s Legacy in Political Filmmaking (74268)

Session Information: Film Studies
Session Chair: Emmanuel Ufuophu-Biri

Thursday, 21 September 2023 11:25
Session: Session 2
Room: Eixample
Presentation Type:Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 2 (Europe/Madrid)

Leni Riefenstahl is the director of one of the most important political films, Triumph of the Will (1935). In the film, she relies on her acting experience on Bergfilms (or Mountain Films), which focus on spectacular elements and presentation rather than narrative requirements to position Adolf Hitler as a savior. She uses the gaze, accentuated by distinct camerawork and titles that guide the viewer, to appeal not to reason but to sentiment better explained by Siegfried Kracauer’s mass ornament theory which create in the viewer an urge to participate or fear missing out. While some of her legacy is revolutionary, such as the introduction of a female gaze that sexualizes the male body in the form of war soldiers taking showers, the paper focuses on the dangerous legacy left by the filmmaker of the ultimate far-right. Analyzing political ads by Donald Trump which targeted the Latino Caravan in 2018 and some of the videos from the Jair Bolsonaro political campaign, we find similarities in techniques used by Riefenstahl and in these contemporary political ads in which the leaders take positions under low angels that exalt them, the use of incendiary titles, and images of large worshipping crowds to try to appeal to the irrational character structure of a possibly malleable mass audience.

Werner Pellehn Blum, Northeastern University, United States

About the Presenter(s)
Mr Werner Pellehn Blum is a Independent Scholar at Northeastern University in United States

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00