Film: Triumph of the Will
A 1935 film directed by Leni Riefenstahl and funded by the German government
. It was shown once a year for propaganda purposes in every German cinema until 1945. Despite its loathesome subject matter (the 1934 Nazi Party Congress), it is regarded as an innovative, groundbreaking film that showed how cinema could be used for propaganda and documenting spectacle. It proved highly influential—the medal scene that ends Star Wars
is a direct lift from the scene in this movie where Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Viktor Lutze lay a wreath at the memorial for President Hindenburg.
The movie is officially not public domain, but since it also has no owners
, it's available on various online video sites. Viewer discretion required, as well as not living in Germany. (Like all other Nazi propaganda, it is banned there.)
This film provides examples of:
- Badass Army: Perhaps the most iconic scene in the movie is when Adolf Hitler is standing with SS leader Heinrich Himmler, and SA leader Viktor Lutze. Hitler, Himmler, and Lutze all salute the entire armed forced, and the troops salute the Nazi leaders back.
- Not just a badass army, but the SS in particular was also an evil army.
- Balcony Speech
- Documentary Of Lies: Well, it self-defines itself as a documentary (of the 1934 Party Congress of the NSDAP), at least, and it was certainly innovative in the 'editing for emotional effect or make things appear to be other than they were' department.
- Executive Meddling: Averted; Hitler gave Riefenstahl carte-blanche to make the film how she wanted. Joseph Goebbels was not happy about this, and various senior Nazi officials complained that the movie didn't have any propaganda. Hitler overruled them.
- Eye Candy: Generally everything.
- Glorious Leader: The way Hitler is presented.
- Hitler Cam: The Trope Namer, and possibly the Trope Maker, though it's actually used rather sparingly.
- Intended Audience Reaction: See Propaganda Machine.
- Milking the Giant Cow: The Fuhrer's bombastic gesticulating during his big speech is truly a sight to behold.
- Million Mook March: Numerous scenes, particularly the mourning of former President Hindenburg
- Nazi Germany
- Patriotic Fervor: Of the worst sort.
- Propaganda Machine: The film itself.
- A few American propaganda pieces just showed the marching and translated parts of the speeches into English, letting the mere fact it was meant to be inspirational for the Germans speak for itself. The Why We Fight series did this a lot.
- Putting on the Reich
- Rousing Speech: Well, they certainly seem roused. And ready to kill on command.
- Sequel Displacement: Riefenstahl made this as a follow-up to Victory of Faith, which chronicled the 1933 Party rally. That movie however was suppressed by the German government after the Night of the Long Knives, for prominently featuring Ernst Rohm and the SA. Victory remains comparatively obscure, and considered inferior by most who have seen it.
- Stock Parody: Probably one of the most referenced films of all time: everything from Star Wars to Gladiator to The Lion King borrows imagery from this movie, along with the innumerable documentaries who cannibalize its footage. More generally our collective image of Nazis (marching masses of soldiers, Hitler's manic speechmaking) largely originates here.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The Movie. This trope is largely a product of perspective. The Nazis try to portray themselves as sane and reasonable, but we the audience now know that what they said and what they meant often conflicted with each other, and so all the many speeches in the film sound wholly ludicrous.
- Values Dissonance: We hope so.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Riefenstahl managed to make a feature-length Nazi propaganda film that made zero references to Jews.
- At least, zero explicit references to Jews. One of the shown short excerpts from the speeches made during the Party Congress does speak about the need to keep races — and the German race specifically — pure.
- World of Ham