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Documentary Week 2

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Documentary Week 2

  1. 1. HNC Unit 61: Moving Image Documentary Production Week 2
  2. 2. Lesson Objectives • To begin to understand the development of the moving image documentary format • To begin to consider areas of Documentary to research for your first assignment
  3. 3. Propaganda and National cinemas
  4. 4. Definition of Propoganda The spreading of ideas, information, or rumour for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person Ideas, facts or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause;
  5. 5. 1930’s -1940’s: Historical/political context • 1933 Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nationalist Socialist party (Germany) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (US) win elections and come to power • Ramsay MacDonald is Prime Minister in the UK • There is a global economic crisis looming and Winston Churchill warns about German rearmament • In the UK Oswald Mosley organises Fascist rallies across the UK
  6. 6. In Documentary Governments in the UK, Germany and the US, set up documentary film units to lead on creating propaganda and news reels to unite and influence their citizens. • John Grierson is appointed in the UK • Pare Lorentz in the US • Leni Riefenstahl in Germany
  7. 7. Germany
  8. 8. The new objectivity • In 1933 Germany is still suffering financially and psychologically from the impact of WWI • There are growing feelings of resentment and anti-semitsm • The films of the time reflect the despair of the German people. The style of films is called ‘The New Objectivity’ and they feature social and political issues • Many patriotic films were also developed celebrating German culture
  9. 9. Germany • Sound in film is developed from around 1932 • Many famous German film directors (Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz lang) emigrate to the US to escape persecution. • In 1933 the Reichsfilmkammer (Reich chamber of film) was founded and took over all film production • Jews and foreigners are excluded from employment in the German film industry • No films can be made that were not in accord with the views of the ruling regime • The import of foreign films is restricted
  10. 10. • “The most beautiful thing I have ever seen in film was Riefenstahl’s dance on the sea in The Holy Mountain.” • “Once we come to power, you must make my films.” o Adolf Hitler as quoted in A Memoir. “Tanz an das Meer” from Der Heilige Berg.
  11. 11. “I can simply say that I feel spontaneously attracted by everything that is beautiful…beauty, harmony…Whatever is purely realistic…average…doesn’t interest me… I am fascinated by what is beautiful, strong, healthy, what is living…” Leni Riefenstahl Leni Riefenstahl
  12. 12. Leni Riefenstahl 1902- 2003 • Born in Berlin in 1902 • Dancer and actress in German Nature films (starred in The Blue Light), Film director and photographer • Most famous for making Triumph of the Will for Adolf Hitler as a propaganda
  13. 13. In her memoirs, Leni recalls meeting Adolf Hitler as a “fateful” encounter. • Berlin Sports Palace, February 1932 – “I heard his voice…that very same instant I had an almost apocalyptic vision…I felt quite paralyzed…I was fascinated, and I sensed that the audience were in bondage to this man…I was deeply affected.” • Leni wrote to Hitler in May 1932 – “I must confess that I was so impressed by you…I would like to meet you personally.”
  14. 14. Triumph of the Will 1935 Full film
  15. 15. Observations • Shows the German people as a mass, very few shots of individuals appear • The scale and number of people present images of power and of a resurgent Germany • Depicts the German people unified under National Socialism • The film is actually cleverly staged rather than a depiction of real events • It acts more like a religious messianic ritual or a rock concert creating a feeling of mass emotion and absorption • The individual appears lost in the mass • Everyday life is not particularly featured. How does the film depict the German people and the Nazi party? What cinematic techniques are used?
  16. 16. Observations The narrative of Propaganda differs from traditional narrative fiction and documentary film The subject of Propaganda has no story arc or development Triumph of the Will is repetative in its assertion of the success and power of the Nazi party and the weakness of their enemies ‘The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies. However, the followers must be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy’. Umberto Eco
  17. 17. Olympia 1938 • Hitler was so happy with Triumph of the Will, he commissioned Riefenstahl to make another propaganda film about the Olympic Games which were held in Berlin in 1936 • The impact of the documentary is more subtle than Triumph of the Will • It Has been noted for its technical and esthetic achievements as it features tracking shots that follow the athletes movements, montage and Slow motion shots • The film had an influence on the development of modern sports documentary
  18. 18. OLYMPIA 1938 Full film
  19. 19. Documentary Ethics Both films pioneered techniques of camera movement and editing Both are highly controversial as their aesthetic merit is inseparable from their propagandizing of Nazi ideals • After the war she was detained by Allied Forces • Later cleared of complicity in Nazi crimes • Became a photographer & later learnt to dive filming underwater documentaries • Her career never recovered • Died at 101 The Fate of Riefentahl
  20. 20. Documentary ethics ‘What am I guilty of? I can and do regret making the film of the 1934 Party Congress,‘Triumph of the Will.’…I can’t regret that I was alive in that period, but no words of anti-Semitism ever passed my lips, nor did I write any. I was never anti-Semitic and I never joined the Nazi party. So what am I guilty of?...I didn’t drop any atom bombs. I didn’t denounce anyone. So where does my guilt lie?” Leni Riefenstahl
  21. 21. “With indescribable joy, deep emotion, and filled with profound gratitude, we share with you, my Fuhrer, your and Germany’s greatest victory, the entry of Germany troops into Paris. Surpassing all other powers of the human imagination, you are accomplishing deeds without equal in the history of mankind. How shall we be able to thank you? Offering my congratulations does far too little to convey to you the emotions that I am feeling.” Telegram to Hitler after conquering Paris, June 14, 1940.
  22. 22. British Documentary movement • ‘I look on cinema as a pulpit, and use it as a propagandist’ (John Grierson 1898-1972) • Grierson was Scottish, the son of a schoolteacher who studied English and Moral Philosophy • His postgraduate studies were in propaganda • 1928 founded film unit at Empire Marketing Board • He made his first film in 1929 Drifters • 1936 Film unit moved to General Post Office • Believed film could provide a general education to all about the important issues of the time.
  23. 23. Drifters
  24. 24. Housing problems 1935
  25. 25. Documentary ethics • What kind of person is the film narrated by? • Do you see any problems in the way in which the film presents its subjects? • Housing problems was one of the first documentaries to feature interviews • Funded by the British Commercial Gas Association who would make a large profit out of the rebuilding work the documentary was calling for
  26. 26. Night Mail
  27. 27. Different approaches • A tribute to postal workers • Features music By Benjamin Britten • Poetry by WH Auden • Again celebrating the ordinary working man. • Why do you think the German and British propaganda films were so different?
  28. 28. Listen to Britain 1942 • Made by celebrated documentary maker Humphrey Jennings • Produced during WW2 by the Crown Film Unit part of the British governments Ministry of Information • Has a non linear structure and elaborate use of sound ‘All sorts of audiences felt it to be a distillation and also a magnification of their own experiences on the home front. This was especially true of factory audiences. I remember one show in a factory in the Midlands where about 800 workers clapped and stamped approval’.
  29. 29. Listen to Britain Listen to Britain may be considered as artistic or poetic but the film is based on ambiguity and doubt. Mass Observation, co-founded by Jennings in 1937, found in the war’s early years that the public considered it “un-British to shove propaganda down your throat”, so Jennings realised that he would take a different approach to succeed. . How is Listen to Britain different from the other films? How can the film be seen to be ambiguous? What do you feel as you watch it? Which approach do you think was the most successful the German or British?
  30. 30. Socialism vs Fascism In Mein Kampf, Hitler talks of the success of British propaganda in World War I, believing people's ignorance meant simple repetition and an appeal to feelings over reason would suffice. In contrast, Jennings' "calm voice of reason appeals to the mind rather than emotion”. In Triumph of the Will, for example, Leni Riefenstahl works with the myth and ignores the reality, while Jennings acknowledges their differences. A.J.P. Taylor believes Britain's war socialism represented genuine unity, allowing Jennings to admit these tensions given the public's distaste for overt propaganda. Thus for Jennings the poetry and propaganda "enrich and unsettle each other”. This subtle reflection upon the myth “genuinely was propaganda as art, an extraordinary feat which Triumph of the Will doesn’t come near, thankfully
  31. 31. TASK: DEFINING DOCUMENTARY • Watch all of Listen to Britain online and write a couple of paragraphs comparing the British and German approach to Documentary • Start to research and think about an era or area of Documentary that you are interested in • After next weeks seminar we will look at your first assignment for Documentary
  32. 32. Further reading • Works on Leni Riefenstahl • Doc: The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993) dir. Ray Muller • Leni Riefensthal, A memoir (German, 1987; English, 1993) • Steven Bach, Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (2007) • Rainer Rother, Leni Riefenstahl, The Seduction of Genius (2002)

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  • AmitRanjan74

    Jun. 11, 2019

Presentation from week 2


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