Critics have analyzed Leni Riefenstahl's four feature length films from 1932 to 1954 largely for their depictions of fascist ideals while often neglecting how they represent gender. Viewing Riefenstahl's films using the theoretical gender models of Judith Butler and R.W. Connell provides a greater understanding of gender roles in Germany during both the Weimar and Nazi eras. Beginning with Das Blaue Licht (The Blue Light, 1932), and continuing to Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will, 1935), Olympia (1938), and concluding with Tiefland (The Lowlands, 1954), there is a clear evolution of how Riefenstahl understood and represented gender. Riefenstahl's earliest film Das Blaue Licht depicts a strong and independent female protagonist in Junta, but with the rise of fascism in Germany this type of character disappears and evolve into the weak and helpless figures like Martha in Tiefland. This study will look at these films within the cultural context of early-twentieth century Germany and National Socialism to consider how Riefenstahl's films participate in the understanding, articulation, and performance of gender at a crucial turning point in the history of Western Culture.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Robinson, Sean R., "From the Mountains to the Lowlands: Depictions of Gender Roles in the Films of Leni Riefenstahl" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6373.
Leni Riefenstahl, gender roles, film theory, gender theory