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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Leni Riefenstahl 'the Devil's Diva'
Condolence book for film director Leni Riefenstahl
Riefenstahl's work for Hitler came back to haunt her

Many of Germany's newspapers cast a detailed eye over the life and career of the controversial film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, who has died at the age of 101.

Many commentators pay tribute to her cinematic abilities, but there is also much discussion of her links with the Nazis, and of her present-day legacy.

Berlin's Die Welt is clear about Riefenstahl's artistic achievement.

Leni Riefenstahl conquered new ground in the cinema
Der Tagesspiegel

The paper puts her most famous film about the Nazis' Nuremberg rallies, Triumph of the Will, under the microscope.

"Its effectiveness lies in the use of the most modern cinematic techniques to portray the principles of the 'new politics'."

"Experimental filming, movement, rhythm, the central role of montage and simultaneous action" are some of the elements the paper singles out for praise.

Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel agrees. "Leni Riefenstahl conquered new ground in the cinema."

"Her cameramen had to learn to roller-skate so they could follow the rapid movements of the marching columns... tracks and ladders were also used."

'Superficial' art

Whilst giving Riefenstahl similar credit, the Berliner Zeitung runs a critical eye over her films.

The Devil's brilliant Diva

"Her art always remained superficial. Not once did she manage to portray a person as an individual."

Der Tagesspiegel concurs, calling her art "the industrialisation of the individual".

Links with Hitler?

Many papers chart the connection between Riefenstahl and the Nazis.

She herself always maintained her films were not propaganda for Hitler and that she was not involved in the politics of the period.

Berliner Zeitung is inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt and accept she was not a political person, but says "her naivety was also an act".

The tabloid Bild is more forthright. "The Devil's brilliant Diva" is its headline.

Today you can see her cinematic language in sport broadcasts, music videos, and jeans commercials. She is the mother of all adverts
Die Tageszeitung

"She was the muse of the Nazis... Her art was beautiful and dangerous at the same time."

"Hitler's Queen of the Amazons" is how Der Tagesspiegel sees it. "Hitler was fascinated by her, and she was fascinated by Hitler."

"Their copulation took place in public - through the rape of the masses, who surrendered with iron discipline."

'Visionary, pioneer'

Some papers also look at Riefenstahl's cinematic legacy. "A visionary, a pioneer" writes the Berliner Morgenpost.

Berlin's Die Tageszeitung headlines its report "Death of a bizarre media icon".

Leni Riefenstahl was an icon of the 20th century
Die Welt

Her legacy, the paper writes, can still be seen "in her enormous archive of styles, used again and again by advertising and popular culture."

Many commentators point to the Star Wars films by George Lucas as being clearly influenced by her.

"Today you can see her cinematic language in sport broadcasts, music videos, and jeans commercials. She is the mother of all adverts."

Berlin's Die Welt tries to summarise Riefenstahl's life.

"In the 100 years, our moral, ideological and economic certainties collapsed, to be replaced by grey areas and contradictions."

"In this sense, Leni Riefenstahl was an icon of the 20th century."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"She became one of Hitler's foremost propagandists"

Meeting Leni Riefenstahl
09 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Hitler's film-maker turns 100
22 Aug 02  |  Entertainment
Obituary: Leni Riefenstahl
09 Sep 03  |  Entertainment

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