Potsdam - The whole Leni Riefenstahl is included in few, dazzling verses of Goethe. “Und Schlag auf Schlag!/ Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen:/ Verweile doch! du bisdt so schon!/ Dann magst du mich in Fesseln sclagen, / Dann will ich gern zugrunde gehn!/ Dann mag die Totenglocke schallen,/ Dann bist du deines Dienstes frei, / Die Uhr magh stehn, der Zeiger fallen, / Es sei die Zeit fur mich vorbei!” (“Let's shake hands!/ If I must say to the instant /: Stay! You are so beautiful! / then throw me in chains, / so I will accept the end!/ So ring the knell, / then, expiring your promise,/ stop the clock, fall down the hand, / finish for me the time!”). This is the pact signed by Faust and Mephistopheles, but the director of Olympia didn't know it or she did not remember it. So it was attempted to stop the instant, in his beauty, in the splendour of the form, in the purity of the gesture, in the power of the action. The hell ended. Along the halls of the ex Orangerie of Potsdam all ages spectators crowd orderly in front of the monitors where are passed, continuous cycle, the two pictures she directed and starred (“The damned belle “, 1932, “Lowland”, ended in 1944, confiscated and then screened only ten years later) and the documentaries marking her for all her life (“The triumph of will “, 1935, “The day of the freedom. Our Wermacht”, 1935, Olympia, 1938). The show devoted to her develops through two long paths going over again her life and career, from the first tests as dancer and that succeeding one another projects never carried out, featuring his activity during the post war. In a little hall it is screened the film-interview Macht der Bilder that Ray Muller shot about her, a frail old little woman at the Maldives not always walking lively, but that moves as girl underwater, among giant mantas that seems to fly as birds of other planets. Which nature she is, it is well understand since the first question of the operator: “Soft lights are ok over me...”. The picture is dated 1994, Leni was ninety-two. Last year, at 96, she has been in Papua-New Guinea for new diving series. There are images showing the feminine fascination better than any analysis of the man-woman relationship. There's no ambiguity in the beauty of Riefenstahl, and nevertheless it is understood how she was more modern as to his own times, as regard to the model of her own times. A take of “White Bliss “, the 1931 picture of Arnold Fanck, shows her with a white snowsuit, with her initials embroidered, making disappearing all the odd one aesthetic of the current skiing. In “S.O.S. Iceberg”, by Franck the same, with the aviator cap and goggles is perfect; a photo by the “Time” in 1936, while she is intent on tying skis, the knee-length sock folded up,with shorts and a low-necked body is the celebration of seduction. The shot showing her on the set of Olympia on a moving carriage, with a round-necked jumper, fold up sleeves, flared trousers, white sandals, proves she could act as a model for a Jill Sander's or Giorgio Armani's dress, sixty years later.
A feminine body and a mind, a male will and thought. In this dichotomy it is condensed the success and the tragedy of Riefenstahl, of her public life as well as her private one. The first man of his life rapes her, he's forty, she less more than twenty; Glenn Morris, the American golden medal decathleta at Berlin and then the cinematographic Tarzan, after the prize-giving tears her the blouse and kisses her breast in the stadium: the will live a passionate story. His future husband, Peter Jacob, almost breaks down the door of her room and then takes her by force... Other flirts, already spent or kept still to come, shows always a clash of personalities, a fight not to make oneself subjugated, an acceptation of the law of the jungle. Within work, this need to impose oneself concurs to realise masterworks that are disquieting in their lights and shadows succeeding one another, in accomplishing form and distorting it before reaching perfection. The romantic and sentimental films she directed and starred before the documentaries that will sanction her grandeur and that will prepare her execration, are in film format what the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich were in art. Nature as the primordial element, whose recall one cannot withstand, the loneliness of human beings, the fascination of extremes and contrasts.
The fleeting moment Riefenstahl tried to stop with the cine camera, the beauty beat by the harmony of bodies, politics deemed as aesthetic, the triumph of composition, masses moving in unison, perfect movements, order and measure follow one another in the images and in the films at the exhibition, a tribute to a protagonist of this century compelled to survive herself, even unable to neglect herself or to contradict herself, closed in that handful of years, when occurred the rise to power of Hitler and the transformation of a talent into an instrument, more or less aware of, of the regime. With ruthless sincerity, an American magazine will sum up the problem in the fifty: “Are you a talent director and do you work for Hitler? So you are a nazis. Do you work for Stalin? So you are a genius “. After half century from the end of the Second World War the debit and credits accounts, that of sins and good actions, maybe can start without hysteria and without preconceptions. And so it must be admitted that it was not Leni Riefenstahl's fault. The matter is that the beauty is not democratic.
Mensile di scienza medica e attualita`
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