Triumph of the Will

“When Danny asked me to make the film, I knew right away I had the opportunity to pay tribute to a skateboarder I admired and tell a human story that fed my filmmaking soul. When Danny calls and asks, you don’t say no.” – Jacob Rosenberg, director of Waiting for Lightning There is no real way of knowing, just by watching it, that the new documentary Waiting for Lightning is a work commissioned by its own subject. The above quote comes from an interview in the press notes, and after reading it, I decided that the film is even worse than I already thought. Something just rubs me the wrong way about a prominent person having a movie made about himself. It reminds me of Triumph of the Will, especially the opening. This isn’t to say that I think legendary pro skateboarder Danny Way is comparable to Hitler in the worst of aspects, just in the narcissism sense.

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Criterion Files

One major aspect of the Nazi propaganda machine that gained their support from the German people was their promotion of nostalgia. And like any form of nostalgia (and especially in nostalgia’s frequent political function), this was a selective nostalgia, decidedly exploiting certain tropes and icons of German history and heritage. A major component of this nostalgia was the promotion of nature as the means of returning to pure German identity. Nature provided a convenient contrast to the values that the Nazi party wanted to work against, and it’s opposite – the urban center – was the focal point of all they problems they perceived Germany as having been misguided by, most explicitly centralized in the supposed decadence of 1920s Berlin. The political, aesthetic, and sexual aspirations (not to mention the diversity) of the Weimar period posed a threat to the ideals of tradition, uniformity, and the assumed hierarchy of specific social roles. This nostalgic and romantic preoccupation with nature is readily available in German cultural products of the 1920s and 30s. Anybody who has seen Inglourious Basterds (2009) is familiar with the “mountain film,” or “bergfilme” genre that had peaked by this point. This genre was popular years before the Third Reich took power, and its prevalence speaks volumes to the German peoples’ preoccupation with nature leading up to the Hitler’s rise to power. Leni Riefenstahl, perhaps the most famous of Nazi-era filmmakers, starred in mountain films and went onto make Olympia (1938) and Triumph of the Will (1935), a […]

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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