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Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (Englisch) Audio-CD – Audiobook, 30. Mai 2007

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“It is difficult to overpraise Bach’s efforts . . . Bach is determined to present [Leni Riefenstahl] coolly, ironically, without loss of his own moral vector. What emerges is a compulsively readable and scrupulously crafted work . . . an almost novelistically compelling narrative of a life endlessly obfuscated by lies . . . graceful . . . nuanced . . . brilliant.”
-Richard Schickel, The Los Angeles Times (March 11, 2007)

“First-rate . . . [a] richly fleshed-out portraiture and social history”
- Judith Thurman, The New Yorker (March 19, 2007)

“Energetic . . . Serves as [a] much needed corrective to all the spin, evasions and distortions of the record purveyed by Riefenstahl.”
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times (March 13, 2007)

“Reading Steven Bach’s excellent biography of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, Iwas struck at how timely her life is today . . . Bach’s book demystifies her . . . brilliant.”
-Baltimore Jewish Times

“Like all of the best film books, Leni describes the times as well as the largest figures in the landscape.”

“Excellent . . .”
-Ian Buruma, The New York Review of Books

“Meticulous and revealing . . . Bach writes almost as if he were a personal witness . . . it may be a cliché, but it was hard to put down this book . . . Bach provides the most complete and interesting account of her life and work to date.”
-Anniston Star

“A fuller, rounder portrait . . . Bach writes well and researches well . . . [with] a knack for the pithy phrase.”
-Financial Times

“It is a tribute to Bach’s storytelling skill and sparkling prose that every page of this book fascinates.”
-The First Post

“A model of careful research and interpretation, portraying the filmmaker in a completely new light.”
-Deseret Mountain News

“A fantastic job . . .”
-Walter Reichert, Entertainment World

“Frank, authoritative and dishy . . . well written and unsparing . . .”
-David Walton, The Dallas Morning News

“Direct, forceful and admirably restrained in rhetoric and hyperbole . . . a short, sharp, hard jab at the Leni Legend.”
-Duane David, Rocky Mountain News (March 16, 2007)

“Fascinating . . . the definitive new biography from Steven Bach should silence any lingering Riefenstahl apologists . . . Bach bravely sorts through the mountain of falsehoods . . . carefully researched.”
-Andrea Hoag, Film Comment (March-April 2007)

“Briskly readable prose that never lets up . . . his gossipy page-turner is a riveting account of aesthetic beauty put to the ugliest of ends, and of the brilliant, monstrous woman who survived the Third Reich, but could never outrun the long shadow it cast over her life and career.”
-Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club (March 15, 2007)

“Tells a riveting story . . . impressive detail . . . written with showbiz glee.”
-The Economist

“Bach makes the vivid and exasperating Riefenstahl come back to life and stand before us to be judged . . . Meticulous . . . Bach unearths the buried facts, finds the truth behind the lies.”
-Book World (March 4, 2007)

“Penetrating and superbly well-written . . . As Bach expertly elucidates the opportunistic Riefenstahl’s exploits . . . he takes measure, as no one else has, of her ruthless ambition . . . Riefenstahl loved fairy tales, and, as Bach so perceptively and artistically reveals, she succeeded in living one, however insidious.”
-Donna Seaman, Booklist (February 15, 2007)

"Steven Bach's Leni finally presents Riefenstahl as she genuinely was: not as we have seen her so far but as Hitler's self-serving and mendacious p.r. handmaiden. If you haven't thought of 'Nazi artist' as a noxious and corrupting oxymoron, Bach's scrupulous account of a zealously masked life may persuade you otherwise."
-- Cynthia Ozick

"In this lively, engaging biography of the legendary Leni Riefenstahl, Steven Bach finally separates fact from fiction to give the powerful filmmaker, manipulative narcissist and friend of Hitler her due."
--Richard Rhodes -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


Leni Riefenstahl is one of the most fascinating and controversial personalities of the twentieth century. Best known as 'Hitler's filmmaker', Riefenstahl made two documentaries, OLYMPIA and TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, acknowledged to be among the greatest films ever made. But they are insidious glorifications of the Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Drawing on new primary sources - recordings of Riefenstahl herself, interviews with her colleagues and intimate friends - Steven Bach puts the lie to her lifelong portrayal of herself as an apolitical artist who knew nothing of the Holocaust, firmly denying her connection to the Nazi regime that she had helped to promote. The facts speak for themselves: Riefenstahl's passionate involvement with the Nazis from their earliest days; the secret agreements that financed her career and supported her in later life; her visits to concentration camps and use of slave labour courtesy of the Third Reich - and more. This is an exceptional work of historical investigation, an objective but unsparing appraisal of a woman of great talent who was corrupted by ruthless ambition. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Interesting Folks Make for Interesting Biographies 29. Mai 2007
Von Ronald H. Clark - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This is one of two current biographies out on Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003), who remains somewhat radioactive give her close association with Hitler and other top Nazi leaders during the 1930's and 1940's. The author is a former motion picture executive turned professor, who previously has written an excellent biography of Leni's contemporary and rival, Marlene Dietrich. Leni is generally seen as being not a particularly pleasant person, who manifested an extreme degree of ego and far less concern about truth in the historical record. This book, while it does not seek to mitigate those allegations, and does in fact add some damaging new information, really the author is much more interested in charting the contours of Leni's life, the times she lived in, and those with whom she interacted than passing moral judgments.

One of the strengths of the author is his ability to concisely set the stage at various points in Leni's life. His brief discussion of effervescent Berlin during the 1920's particularly is rich in insight and helps enormously in explaining the environment out of which Leni emerged. Similarly skillful is his discussion of the top Nazi party leadership (particularly Goebbels as propaganda guru) and political developments in Germany in the 1930's--just enough so that the reader is prepared to understand Leni's activities during this period. Bach is at his best, though, in focusing upon Leni as the film maker, whether it is her 1930's films such as "Triumph of the Will" and her Olympic films, or her later films (including the controversial "Tiefland")and African documentaries. He also casts an experienced eye on her many photographic book projects, especially those relating to Africa and coral reefs. The book covers the entirety of Leni's life where the reader learns she was active and working on new projects right up to her death at 101.

So, this is a judicious biography of an extremely controversial figure. Bach lays out the facts which have emerged from an extremely thorough job of research, including a slew of taped interviews done in the 1970's with Leni and two dozen of her friends, collaborators and critics by a UCLA Ph.D. candidate . There are extensive notes and a helpful bibliography. The book is handsomely produced for Knopf by Berryville Graphics in Virginia. At 300 or so pages of text, I never once felt that Bach let his narrative drag. Whatever you can say about Leni, and plenty of folks have said a lot, she led a fascinating life which Bach has well captured in this fine biography.
22 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fascinating biography of the complex and controversial Leni Riefenstahl 2. Juni 2007
Von Steven A. Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This biography of Leni Riefenstahl by Steven Bach is compelling reading. It tells the tale of someone with great talent--but also someone who could never come honestly to grips with her role in Nazi Germany. Someone who, in the end, was a mediocre actress and dancer and a very talented filmmaker and photographer. But even with her successes, many felt that with Riefenstahl, she put as much focus on herself as on her works. And, with some of her works, critics noted that they were technically wonderful, but not with much soul or heart.

Her early years featured a strong, almost overbearing father; she early learned how to try to "get around him." Her mother Bertha (whom some suspected of being Jewish) was supportive of her, whereas her father wanted nothing to do with Leni's visions for her future as a dancer. Injury derailed her from dance, and she began acting, with her most prominent genre being the so-called Alpine films. While she saw herself as a terrific actress, outside of some exceptions, she appears to have been rather ordinary. But, as throughout her life, her self-image was far more positive; she never had the ability to be self-critical. One virtue that emerged early in her films was physical courage (page 43), "the only personal quality she possessed that colleagues and even enemies could later praise without reservation."

Through a series of events, she ended up in a position to direct a film featuring Adolf Hitler at the 1933 Nazi party congress, "Victory of Faith." It was not as well done as her later, much better known films, but it provided her experience in developing techniques, coming to understand camera work, and so on. Here, she was clearly working on concert with Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi political machine, although she steadfastly resisted the implication that she was a willing and even enthusiastic partner in her films with the party. Hitler decided that he wanted her to do a follow for the 1934 party congress. The result was one of her classics (and a troubling classic, given its explicit vehicle for Nazi propaganda), "Triumph of the Will." Anyone interested in the art of Riefenstahl must watch this movie; there is an awesome (and awful) grandeur to it. Following this, another of her major works, the film that focused on the 1936 Olympics. Technically, another strong work. Some of the same troubling questions, though, remain, including her ties to the Nazis.

Her work as, at least functionally, a propagandist of the Third Reich essentially ended her film making career, although she made a handful of efforts. Thwarted, she moved to documentaries (in Africa) and photography. At a point later in life, she became one of the oldest scuba divers around and took what are apparently fine photographs underneath the sea. In her 80s and 90s, there was renewed interest in her earlier classic works, including showings at some film festivals. Even at that, though, when interviewed she would deny involvement with the Nazis, with the use of Gypsies as extras (some of whom would perish in the concentration camps), and so on. One of her later statements makes this clear, when she said (page 274) "I have never done anything I didn't want to do, and nothing I've ever been ashamed of."

This is a strong biography of a fascinating character, whose denial of her role in World War II leaves the reader troubled. She was remarkably ambitious and used whatever tools that she had at her disposal to get ahead; she was strong-willed and made enemies. This is a work that illuminates this complex person.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Masterful depiction of a flawed genius 31. März 2007
Von Tom Holzel - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Steve Bach has done a remarkable job of painting a complex, life-like and believable portrait of Leni Riefenstahl, the (in)famous Nazi-era film director. He does so both by pointing out her many shortcomings, (not the least of which is a rapacious sucking-up to Hitler and his cronies), and also by admiring her ground-breaking cinematic genius. This is an unusual feat for a critic who is politically liberal --a rare case of someone able to separate his reflexive distaste for the many moral and ideological compromises she made to fuel her rise from being a plumber's daughter, to becoming one of the most creative film directors of the 20th Century.

Riefenstahl lived two separate lives: her life as a second-rate actress which segued into becoming a sensational film director and naturalist photographer; and her life of spending the last 60 years of her career defending her casting-couch activities of the first 20. Active to the very end, she died in 2003, age 101--a camera still in her hand.

How then to judge Ms Riefenstahl; how then to judge the book? As we never seem to learn, great talent does not necessarily come from great people. Why are we so regularly surprised to learn that geniuses are often terribly flawed in other aspects of their character. (This has made a "neutral" portrayal of Hitler impossible to depict. No one has been able to separate the evil of the man from his political genius--a genius that turned a prostate nation into a world power almost overnight.) Amazon.com was so repelled by Riefenstahl that for months they resolutely refuse to post more than two luke-warm reviews, in spite of attempts by many readers to add to the list.

As one of Hitler's favorite pets, Riefenstahl eagerly sought to bathe in the reflected glory of the Fuhrer's power, while she combined that enabling light with her own illumination to create extraordinary cinematic works of art and propaganda. Of course her close association with Hitler made her a natural target of derision for that other propaganda machine--the entire Hollywood community. Once those sights were set, nothing she ever did could be admitted as worthy of artistic praise. (Most of the criticism of her ground-breaking film of the 1936 Berlin Olympics excoriates her for not knowing about Hitler's anti-Jewish activities of a much later date.)

Steven Bach has admirably overcome that distinction, and his depiction of Riefenstahl is masterful. He does her full justice--her guile and dissimilitude, her back-stabbing ambition, her reckless spunk and genius. What one is to make of this uneasy amalgam is something each of us will have to decide for himself.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Good Intro to Leni 29. August 2007
Von MJS - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
After reading Jurgen Trimborn's admirable but somewhat inaccessible biography of Riefenstahl, I sought out this book in hopes that it would be friendlier to a Riefenstahl novice such as me. It certainly is an easier read and a much better starting place.

Steven Bach, of Final Cut fame, writes from the standpoint of a motion picture enthusiast. He also has a POV where Riefenstahl's Nazi associations are concerned and he doesn't hide it. For Bach Riefenstahl is the living version of Klaus Mann's Mephisto, a careerist willing to do anything and associate with anyone to advance her "art." He also makes the case (clearly building on Trimborn's work, among others) that Riefenstahl not only had no problem with anything Hitler did or said, she likely agreed with most if not all of it.

Bach's style is that of a gossipy Hollywood bio, which is fine by me, but he's no fan magazine hack. He knows the power of the snide observation and, best of all, how damning Leni's own words were. At times Riefenstahl comes across as downright delusional about her artistic abilities and men's lust for her. To hear her tell it no man so much as entered the same zipcode as Leni Riefenstahl without falling madly in love with her.

Some may have disagreements about Bach's assessment of Riefenstahl's artistic contributions. I've only seen clips of her work so my own opinion is somewhat limited. Bach does make a good case the Riefenstahl either stole the ideas of others or took credit for their work. Bach doesn't buy the argument that the art is more important than the character or actions of the artist. He also doesn't buy that Riefenstahl was much of an artist.

This is no love letter to Leni. It is an entertaining read. Gossipy, slightly bitchy (as one reviewer here has aptly noted), and full of telling details and quotes, this is a easy entry into the myths and controversy that make up Leni Riefenstahl.
7 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
History's most acclaimed and reviled filmmaker 1. Juni 2007
Von Jack Levic - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Author Steven Bach takes on interesting journey into the life of Leni Riefenstahl. Blinded by ambition, Leni took steps that would haunt her throughout her very long life. Much emphasis is placed on her sexual liaisons and her power over men to support and guide her in her career. She uses and disgards her conquests as she becomes Adolph Hitler's favorite filmmaker. The Nazis gave her their backing and support to make films that would inspire the German people. History will remember her as the person who created two of the most acclaimed documentaries of all time, OLYMPIA and TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. Alas, these increible works of cinematic art were under the tutelage of Hitler and the Nazis. Acclaim and fame led to infamy and derision after the war. She denied making propaganda films. It was all for art but the dark cloud of suspicion followed her throughout her life. Opportunities for Hitler's filmmaker would continue to evaporate as she tried to reinvent herself over the coming decades. Her story is one with no clear answer and Bach makes no attempt to take sides. An ambitious cold-hearted woman willing to do anything to advance her career or a talented, inspired artist desperate to create movies? We'll never know. She never tired of defending herself and stayed active into her late 90's. No road could she take that would not lead her back to her Nazi connections. Read the book and decide for yourself how history should treat this remarkable woman.
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