76 Facts About Leni Riefenstahl


Leni Riefenstahl became one of the few women in Germany to direct a film during the Weimar Period when, in 1932, she decided to try directing with her own film, Das Blaue Licht.


Helene Bertha Amalie Leni Riefenstahl was born in Berlin on 22 August 1902.


Since Leni Riefenstahl was the only child for several years, Alfred wanted her to carry on the family name and secure the family fortune.


However, her mother, Bertha Ida, who had been a part-time seamstress before her marriage, had faith in Leni Riefenstahl and believed that her daughter's future was in show business.


Leni Riefenstahl had a younger brother, Heinz, who was killed at the age of 39 on the Eastern Front in Nazi Germany's war against the Soviet Union.


Leni Riefenstahl fell in love with the arts in her childhood.


Leni Riefenstahl began to paint and write poetry at the age of four.


Leni Riefenstahl was athletic, and at the age of twelve joined a gymnastics and swimming club.


Leni Riefenstahl's mother was confident her daughter would grow up to be successful in the field of art and therefore gave her full support, unlike Riefenstahl's father, who was not interested in his daughter's artistic inclinations.


In 1918, when she was 16, Leni Riefenstahl attended a presentation of Snow White which interested her deeply; it led her to want to be a dancer.


Leni Riefenstahl's wife continued to support her daughter's passion.


Leni Riefenstahl attended dancing academies and became well known for her self-styled interpretive dancing skills, traveling across Europe with Max Reinhardt in a show funded by Jewish producer Harry Sokal.


Leni Riefenstahl began to suffer a series of foot injuries that led to knee surgery that threatened her dancing career.


Leni Riefenstahl became inspired to go into movie making, and began visiting the cinema to see films and attended film shows.


On one of her adventures, Leni Riefenstahl met Luis Trenker, an actor who had appeared in Mountain of Destiny.


Leni Riefenstahl persuaded him to feature her in one of his films.


Leni Riefenstahl later received a package from Fanck containing the script of the 1926 film The Holy Mountain.


Leni Riefenstahl made a series of films for Fanck, where she learned from him acting and film editing techniques.


Leni Riefenstahl had to undergo many physical challenges that would probably be deemed unethical in today's standards.


Leni Riefenstahl produced and directed her own work called Das Blaue Licht in 1932, co-written by Carl Mayer and Bela Balazs.


Hitler was a fan of the film, and thought Leni Riefenstahl epitomized the perfect German female.


Leni Riefenstahl saw talent in Riefenstahl and arranged a meeting.


Leni Riefenstahl heard Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler speak at a rally in 1932 and was mesmerized by his talent as a public speaker.


Leni Riefenstahl is described as fitting in with Hitler's ideal of Aryan womanhood, a feature he had noted when he saw her starring performance in Das Blaue Licht.


Leni Riefenstahl agreed to direct the movie even though she was only given a few days before the rally to prepare.


Leni Riefenstahl received private funding for the production of Tiefland, but the filming in Spain was derailed and the project was cancelled.


Leni Riefenstahl said this film was a sub-set of Der Sieg des Glaubens, added to mollify the German Army which felt it was not represented well in Triumph des Willens.


Leni Riefenstahl visited Greece to take footage of the route of the inaugural torch relay and the games' original site at Olympia, where she was aided by Greek photographer Nelly's.


Leni Riefenstahl was one of the first filmmakers to use tracking shots in a documentary, placing a camera on rails to follow the athletes' movement.


Leni Riefenstahl played with the idea of slow motion, underwater diving shots, extremely high and low shooting angles, panoramic aerial shots, and tracking system shots for allowing fast action.


Leni Riefenstahl filmed competitors of all races, including African-American Jesse Owens in what later became famous footage.


Leni Riefenstahl arrived in New York City on 4 November 1938, five days before Kristallnacht.


When news of the event reached the United States, Leni Riefenstahl publicly defended Hitler.


Leni Riefenstahl maintained that Goebbels was upset when she rejected his advances and was jealous of her influence on Hitler, seeing her as an internal threat.


Leni Riefenstahl therefore insisted his diary entries could not be trusted.


In Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl used traditional folk music to accompany and intensify her shots.


When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, Leni Riefenstahl was photographed in Poland wearing a military uniform and a pistol on her belt in the company of German soldiers; she had gone to Poland as a war correspondent.


Leni Riefenstahl said she did not realize the victims were Jews.


Nevertheless, by 5 October 1939, Leni Riefenstahl was back in occupied Poland filming Hitler's victory parade in Warsaw.


Almost to the end of her life, despite overwhelming evidence that the concentration camp occupants had been forced to work on the movie were later sent to the Auschwitz death camp, Leni Riefenstahl continued to maintain that all the film extras survived.


Leni Riefenstahl sued filmmaker Nina Gladitz, who said Leni Riefenstahl personally chose the extras at their holding camp; Gladitz had found one of the Romani survivors and matched his memory with stills of the movie for a documentary Gladitz was filming.


The German court ruled largely in favour of Gladitz, declaring that Leni Riefenstahl had known the extras were from a concentration camp, but they agreed that Leni Riefenstahl had not been informed the Romani would be sent to Auschwitz after filming was completed.


The last time Leni Riefenstahl saw Hitler was when she married Peter Jacob on 21 March 1944.


Leni Riefenstahl walked out of a holding camp, beginning a series of escapes and arrests across the chaotic landscape.


Leni Riefenstahl was surprised by how kindly they treated her.


Leni Riefenstahl edited and dubbed the remaining material and Tiefland premiered on 11 February 1954 in Stuttgart.


Leni Riefenstahl tried many times to make more films during the 1950s and 1960s, but was met with resistance, public protests and sharp criticism.


In 1960, Leni Riefenstahl attempted to prevent filmmaker Erwin Leiser from juxtaposing scenes from Triumph des Willens with footage from concentration camps in his film Mein Kampf.


Leni Riefenstahl had high hopes for a collaboration with Cocteau called Friedrich und Voltaire, wherein Cocteau was to play two roles.


Leni Riefenstahl visited Kenya for the first time in 1956 and later Sudan, where she photographed Nuba tribes with whom she sporadically lived, learning about their culture so she could photograph them more easily.


Leni Riefenstahl said she was not aware of the nature of the internment camps.


Leni Riefenstahl said, 'Of course, you know, I'm really so misunderstood.


Leni Riefenstahl said she was fascinated by the Nazis, but politically naive, remaining ignorant about war crimes.


Leni Riefenstahl was under house arrest for a period of time.


Leni Riefenstahl was tried four times by postwar authorities for denazification and eventually found to be a "fellow traveller" who sympathised with the Nazis.


Leni Riefenstahl began a lifelong companionship with her cameraman Horst Kettner, who was 40 years her junior and assisted her with the photographs; they were together from the time she was 60 and he was 20.


Leni Riefenstahl traveled to Africa, inspired by the works of George Rodger that celebrated the ceremonial wrestling matches of the Nuba.


Leni Riefenstahl sold some of the pictures to German magazines.


Leni Riefenstahl photographed the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, and rock star Mick Jagger along with his wife Bianca for The Sunday Times.


Leni Riefenstahl was guest of honour at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


In 1978, Leni Riefenstahl published a book of her sub-aquatic photographs called Korallengarten, followed by the 1990 book Wunder unter Wasser.


When filming Impressionen unter Wasser, Leni Riefenstahl lied about her age in order to be certified for scuba diving.


Leni Riefenstahl survived a helicopter crash in Sudan in 2000 while trying to learn the fates of her Nuba friends during the Second Sudanese Civil War, and was airlifted to a Munich hospital, where she received treatment for two broken ribs.


Leni Riefenstahl celebrated her 101st birthday on 22 August 2003 at a hotel in Feldafing, on Lake Starnberg, Bavaria, near her home.


Leni Riefenstahl had been suffering from cancer for some time, and her health rapidly deteriorated during the last weeks of her life.


Leni Riefenstahl died in her sleep at around 10:00 pm on 8 September 2003 at her home in Pocking, Germany.


When traveling to Hollywood to showcase her film Olympia shortly after the coordinated attack of German Jews known as Kristallnacht, Leni Riefenstahl was criticized by the Anti-Nazi League and others.


Leni Riefenstahl was a consummate stylist obsessed with bodies in motion, particularly those of dancers and athletes.


Leni Riefenstahl relies heavily for her transitions on portentous cutaways to clouds, mist, statuary, foliage, and rooftops.


In 1993, Riefenstahl was the subject of the award-winning German documentary film The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, directed by Ray Muller.


Leni Riefenstahl appeared in the film and answered several questions and detailed the production of her films.


Leni Riefenstahl was the subject of Muller's 2000 documentary film Leni Riefenstahl: Her Dream of Africa, about her return to Sudan to visit the Nuba people.


In 2000, Jodie Foster was planning a biographical drama on Leni Riefenstahl, then seen as the last surviving member of Hitler's "inner circle", causing protests, with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's dean Marvin Hier warning against a revisionist view that glorified the director, observing that Leni Riefenstahl had seemed "quite infatuated" with Hitler.


Leni Riefenstahl reportedly wanted Sharon Stone to play her rather than Foster.


Leni Riefenstahl eventually abandoned the project over concerns of its commercial prospects.


Leni Riefenstahl was portrayed by Dutch actress Carice van Houten in Race, a sports drama film directed by Stephen Hopkins about Jesse Owens.