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Film / Triumph of the Will

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A 1935 film directed by Leni Riefenstahl and ordered by the government of Nazi Germany. It was shown once a year for propaganda purposes in every German cinema until 1945. The film was wildly successful at its intended purpose and to this day it forms a reference point for people's mental image of Nazi regime. Moreover, the extent that Triumph of the Will continues to be regarded as an innovative and groundbreaking film has its roots in a concerted effort by the National-Socialist state to promote the film as an ideal in contrast to various forms of expression the Nazis disapproved of.

Ultimately, the Triumph of Triumph is one of budget. With the full backing of the state Triumph of the Will sought to convince both foreign and domestic audiences that the Nazi regime was unstoppable through sheer force of spectacle. Surprisingly (or not) the film has since 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. Perhaps surprisingly, the film is not banned in Germany and even has been broadcasted in public TV several times since the 1970s.

See also Olympia, Riefenstahl's two-part documentary of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.

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 forces, and the troops salute the Nazi leaders back.
  • Balcony Speech: Hitler does a few of these.
  • 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.
  • Advertisement:
  • Intended Audience Reaction: See Propaganda Machine.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The marching band sequence late in the film. Even Hitler seems to get exhausted watching it.
  • 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. The film claims a whopping 200,000 people came together for the celebration.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Of the worst sort.
  • Propaganda Machine: The whole film itself is a glowing example. 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.
  • Rousing Speech: Well, they certainly seem roused. And ready to kill on command.
  • Stock Parody: Probably one of the most referenced films of all time: everything from Citizen Kane to Star Wars to Gladiator to The Lion King to The Spongebob Squarepants Movie borrows imagery from this movie, along with the innumerable films and documentaries who simply cannibalize its footage such as A Clockwork Orange. More generally our collective image of Nazis (marching masses of soldiers, Hitler's manic speech-making) largely originates here.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: This trope is largely a product of perspective. The Nazis portrayed 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.
  • World of Ham: Just look at any one of Hitler's speeches in the film.


Example of: