Triumph des Willens (Triumph Of The Will)

1935

Triumph des Willens (Triumph Of The Will)

Critics Consensus

Triumph of the Will is impossible to separate from its repugnant political context -- and impossible to deny as a powerfully made piece of cinematic propaganda.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 23

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,950
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Movie Info

Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) is a filmed record of the 1934 Nazi Party Convention, in Nuremberg. No, it is more than just a record: it is an exultation of Adolf Hitler, who from the moment his plane descends from Valhalla-like clouds is visually characterized as a God on Earth. The "Jewish question" is disposed of with a few fleeting closeups; filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl prefers to concentrate on cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, and Hitler's climactic speech, all orchestrated, choreographed and illuminated on a scale that makes Griffith and DeMille look like poverty-row directors. It has been alleged that the climactic rally, "spontaneous" Sieg-Heils and all, was pre-planned according to Riefenstahl's specifications, the better to take full advantage of its cinematic potential. Allegedly, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels resented the presence and intrusion of a woman director, but finally had to admit that her images, achieved through the use of 30 cameras and 120 assistants, were worth a thousand speeches. Possibly the most powerful propaganda film ever made, Triumph of the Will is also, in retrospect, one of the most horrifying. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Triumph des Willens (Triumph Of The Will)

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (3)

  • That Triumph of the Will is a great propaganda film, there is no doubt, and various surveys have named it so. But I doubt that anyone not already a Nazi could be swayed by it.

    Feb 17, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Nazis or no, two hours of marching and speechifying is pretty damn dull; maybe this is what they mean by "the banality of evil."

    Feb 17, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Technically brilliant, and still one of the most disturbing pieces of propaganda around.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Chris Petit

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The movie is the embodiment of an evil and destructive philosophy, but it must remain accessible for both new filmmakers and students of history, especially if it inspires them to contemplate the moral limits of their respective fields.

    Mar 14, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Making a supreme effort to put aside the socio-ethical considerations this is, in purely cinematic terms, incredible filmmaking.

    Feb 17, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Leni Riefenstahl's infamous masterwork sits with The Birth of a Nation in the pantheon's "outcast unclean" section.

    Feb 17, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Triumph des Willens (Triumph Of The Will)

  • Sep 26, 2016
    To make it clear: propaganda is not documentary; that said, however dull it may be, this film is a remarkable piece of monstrous propaganda that should be regarded today as a history lesson and as an insightful documentary about the power of propaganda on the weak-minded.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 24, 2012
    Anybody remotely interested in the craft of filmmaking is obligated to at least appreciate "Triumph des Willens" for being a brilliant textbook concocted by the very talented Riefenstahl. The opening scenes alone are perhaps some of the greatest in cinema; shots of the empyrean, cloudy skies from the view of a plane which transition to numerous aerial overhead shots of Nuremberg are still impressive and breathtaking by today's standards. As Hitler emerges from the plane to the wild crowds of his followers, Riefenstahl makes her point of him being some sort of celestial demigod with a potency and elegance that any filmmaker should strive for. The film sticks to its propagandist themes of a united Germany in support of the fascist regime. Granted, by the second half of the film, the many shots of Hitler and his co-leaders giving speeches at the Nuremberg rally do become gratuitous; the message of a united Germany is still stark but redundant, to a point when a surprising boredom almost sinks in at the march of the Stormtroopers throughout the city. Still, even as Rienfenstahl meanders, her creativity never diminishes; we are treated to a multifaceted array of shots in different lenses, all edited beautifully in the final product, to fully document the rally in an interesting, exaggerated fashion which sensationalizes the Nazi regime, its people, and its leaders. There's a scene that takes place at night which nearly appears to be expressionist or even noir in style, and some of the tracking shots and pans which utilize symmetrical perspective makes you wonder if there could be a Kubrick without "Triumph des Willens." "Triumph des Willens" is a fascinating time capsule, not only of a historical event signifying the rise of a terrifying movement in a war torn nation in desperate need of closure and unity but also as a landmark in film (I liked this better than both "Battleship Potemkin" and "Birth of a Nation." So bite me.) The film is epic, mesmerizing, rich, brilliant, and... perhaps regrettably, a piece of Nazi propaganda. Your move, Capra.
    Edward S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 15, 2011
    A must watch if you love documentary and a closet Nazi.
    Cita W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 18, 2010
    Propaganda films of the first part of the twentieth century were usually not so explicit in their message. Many political messages were more often cloaked in storytelling. One of the more blatantly political and thoughtfully directed in propaganda films, "Triumph of the Will" is artfully mastered and generated enough interest in the party to make them seem more a superpower and certainly a threat. Leni Riefenstahl, now infamous and left to live to speak on her work, supposedly was not aware of the anti-Semitism that was exhibited within the party or the proceeding steps of the Third Reich. The film itself is set at the 1934 Nazi Party Convention in Nuremberg. During the film Germany is shown as a free land full of healthy, rosy cheeked young people, adoring crowds to cheer at the Fuhrer's arrival, and long, uninterrupted speeches on the economy, how great their leader's policies are, and the new Germany, strong after its thrashing after World War One. Not included in the film are any mentions of anti-Semitism or the country's view of the rest of Europe, which is strange since it was an obvious point in many areas of the Nazi Party, and seem to be omitted on purpose. The film itself is beautifully shot, relying on a sharp cinematography to weave in and out of shots of the people involved. Every speech Hitler gives is passionate, angry, hopeful for the sake of his peoples, and every time they pan to the crowd or the other politicians, they are always intent on listening. As he passes by in his car the crowd is ecstatic, giving him flowers, children running in the streets unbidden. It's an uplifting view of the party, and the first instance of bold imagery, and using film techniques to envision the world in a way that it is obviously not. Though it drags, and becomes heavy-handed with all the political speeches and how obvious the lies are, it's still an amazing look into the evolution of documentary films and the charisma of a dictator.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer

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