One of the reasons behind the success of the Nazi Party in taking over Germany is on its extensive use of propaganda. Adolf Hitler, known for his penchant for populism, rendered the strong impact of images, films and other materials attributed to Nazism as essential for the political success of the Nazi Party and its agenda for Germany. As an authoritarian leader, Hitler saw the importance of extracting the patronage of the Germans not through forceful means, but through convincing and motivating measures that enticed their mental faculties. To make such a vision possible, Hitler commissioned the talents of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl – one of the most brilliant at the time, to create a movie that promoted Nazism not necessarily in a critical manner, but more on cultivating their blind adherence towards the Nazi Party. The result, Triumph of the Will, is a documentary film masterpiece that presented the magnanimity of the Nazi Party in a grandiose manner, complete with rich aesthetics enhanced with the latest film technology at the time. While Triumph of the Will has garnered strong acclaim as a magnum opus of its period, critics have assailed it for aggrandizing Nazi politics and its presumed ability to arouse sympathy towards Nazism. Thus, the assertion made by Walter Benjamin on the “aestheticization of politics” under German fascism has stood as an important premise to clarify and consider in understanding the significance of Triumph of the Will (Benjamin 217-252; Riefenstahl).
The “Aestheticization of Politics” under German Fascism
Benjamin noted one of the most notable characteristics of the Nazi regime – that of the “aestheticization of politics” under German fascism. In the simplest sense, Benjamin underlined...
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...m that the aesthetic techniques used in Triumph of the Will is exclusive to Nazism, as those may also apply to represent other ideologies subject to changes in the stimuli of people and breakthroughs in media technology. After all, what made Triumph of the Will distinctly Nazi in nature is the fact that it used multifaceted Nazi propaganda; the aesthetic techniques used therein – set apart from the propaganda, could also apply to other ideologies.
Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Production." Illuminations. Ed. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken, 1969. 217-252. Print.
Spielvogel, Jackson. Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History. 6th ed. United Kingdom: Pearson, 2009. Print.
Triumph of the Will. Dir. Leni Riefenstahl. Perf. Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Victor Lutze, various Nazi leaders. Universum Film AG, 1935. DVD.
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