The fact that I like watching her films (what little I've seen of them) will probably offend some people who read this. I'm sorry for that. I do know that the woman was an enthusiastic Nazi propagandist during WWII, and I certainly do despise the Nazis.
But her films!
To me, watching a Riefenstahl film is like listening to Hildegard of Bingen's music. I have the same reaction--a 'weak at the knees,' utterly blissful feeling. It's like an orgasm of the mind.
Gods, I can't believe I'm saying such a thing! But it's how I feel.
I have never seen anything more beautiful on film than the 1936 Olympic divers or this film clip of a woman doing some kind of kata with a broadsword. I was in complete awe while watching both of them.
This is how I imagine that angels must dance.
If I had become a film-maker, I would have wanted my films to be as beautiful as Leni Riefenstahl's--all consideration of politics or morals aside. I would want that quality of ethereal beauty in my films.
It is such a damned shame that she got sucked into the Nazi mindset. Once the war ended, no one wanted to touch her films with a ten-foot pole or hire her. All that skill, wasted.
I've seen an interview of her, and it seems pretty evident to me that she is in denial about the whole Nazi period and her part in it. That is also a shame, that she either can't or won't accept what went on, even after all this time.
It angers me that such astoundingly beautiful filmwork is tainted in this way.