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The responsibility of the artist


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 06:42 AM

I was watching a doc. on DW Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, last night and although I realized the film was perhaps one of the greatest dichotomies in film history however, there was much more to the that I didn't realize about the film. Here is this monumental film that essentually created the notion picture industy. The FIRST feature length film in which Griffith invented new camera angles including the close up and used the camera in revolutionary ways as in the beginning of the film where he starts with a tight shot of a mother and her children crying on the side of a hill then pans while opening the iris to show what the family is seeing General Sherman?s march. Griffith ties the personal tragedy to a historical historicaland sets the nature of the story in one shot. Night shooting which had never been attempted before and was acchieved with the use of magnesium flares. The flashback and invention of non-linear narritive to move the story along with greater dramatic effect. Use of rapid cutting to build the sequence to a greater climactic resolution. The first film to perfect the desolve for scene transitions. Parallel editing between to scenes that are occuring at the same time in order to highten the dramatic effect of each so that the sum of the whole is greater than it's parts. The use of split screen to add further deminsion to the story. Dramatic increase in production values, the film employed hundreds of extras and West Point personel acting as technical advisors to stage the Civil War battle sequences. The first film to have an original score written specifically for it. The film was the first blockbuster earning the equivalent today of over 300 million dollars at the box office. The first film to be endorsed by a sitting president. The first film to have a mainly middle class audiance and turned going to the movies into a respectable pastime. It's success was responsible for the construction and poliforation of the great movie palaces in aticipation of the inevitable flood of films to come. The equivalent price of a ticket to see Birth of a Nation today would be 38 bucks and it STILL managed to remain the highest grossing film until Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs finnally knocked it out of the number one spot in 1937! And yet with all it's accheivements and contributions to the cinamatic arts, if is an evil film that caused untold amounts of suffering and death. It was responcible for the resurection of the cancer that is the Ku Klux Klan which had all but vanished in the years after reconstruction. The lynching and murder of an unknown number of black people. Riots and gangs of murderous bigots storming into black neighborhoods intent on killing and maming any black person they found, man , woman or child. It's reprecussions are still being felt today, as well as it's inpact on the cinematic art.

Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl's beautifully filmed and perfectly made pro NAZI propaganda film masquarading as a documentary of the 1934 Nuremberg Nazi party rally that along with her "documentary" of the 1938 Berlin Olympic Games, Olympia 1 and 2 which has been called one of the finest sports documentaries ever filmed dispite it's Nazi propaganda nessage because of Riefenstahl's unsurpassed talent as a filmmaker helped to solidiify Hitler's popularity in Germany and bring about the Holocaust and the second world war.

These are 2 examples of great filmmakers who used their talent to in reckless and irrispocible ways that border on the criminal. Though there were not respocible for the actions of the people who saw thier films, they certainly inflamed those who were inclined to respond the themes contained within these works of art which makes us ask, "what is the responsiblity of the artist to society?" Does the artist have any liability for his work or should he be free to explore whatever themes he finds artistic inspiration in? What is censorship and what is reasonable responsee to a real threat.

Blacks, particularly the AANCP was able to force Griffith to edit the worst of the inflamitory scenes from Birth of a Nation but the damage was already done. His next film Intollarence, a film done essentially in response to the backlash of Birth of a Nation and the most expensive film ever made at the time, was cinematically impertant but bombed at the box office. Griffith died broke and an alcohalic. Leni Riefenstahl's career ended for all practical purposes after the war and she is quoted as saying ""They killed me then. I am a ghost." [recalling at age 83 her 1936 film "The Olympic Games," which identified her with Hitler and the Nazi Party and "Being sorry isn't nearly enough, but I can't tear myself apart or destroy myself. It's so terrible. I've suffered anyway for over half a century and it will never end, until I die. It's such an incredible burden, that to say 'sorry'... it's inadequate, it expresses too little." Her love of filmmaking is evident in that she made her last film at the age of 99 so what she lost must have been everything she ever cared about...and in my opinion, rightly so. In my opinion she should have been exicuted along with the other NAZIs that helped create that nightmare era. The monsters they created eventually desroyed them as monsters are apt to do. But for you and I what are the responcibilities we face as filmmakers and where do we draw the line on certain subjects, violence, sex, social issues, personal agendas? Where if the personal morality in your are or is there any AND SHOULD there be any? the films mentioned were artistic masterpieces and gave the world a new way of looking at cinema and yet at their core were the worst part of humanity. What are the social ramifications of unrestrained artistic freedom?
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#2 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 11:29 AM

Anything is open in cinema as long as it does not become exploitation and is done with the agenda to somehow exemplify the good of human nature (even through the antithesis of mankind's innate goodness). I feel the "worst of humanity" is censorship, and sadly it's still being practiced today by the MPAA and the british govt. (a big example of this in the bast 20 yrs can be seen in Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover"). If we allow restraints to be placed, simply on the basis of whether or not it offends certain groups of people, then we will, in turn, be allowing the restraints to consume the art of cinema as a whole and dictate every exploration an artist wishes to make. If you ask me, Griffith's forced edit of Birth of a Nation is one of the biggest sins in cinematic history. While I do not in any way agree with his glorification of the KKK, it is nonetheless a deeply historical capsule and a window into the mindset of a man of that time. I think your assessment of Triumph of the Will is, in a sense, looking at it from the wrong perspective. When it was released, it exemplified the power of cinema...upon watching it today, we get a glimpse into the true evil that was Nazi Germany. In both time periods (though it carries a different effect today than it did when released), it is an irreplaceable experience. Also...why pick such examples as these? For thier time, in thier cultural and social environments, they weren't neccessarily, generally considered irresponsible. Deeming them "irresponsible" was done in hindsight...I especially imagine that in Nazi Germany, there was no anticipation of anyone looking back at that film as being "irresponsible." They also were very well made and, to a large extent, non-exploitative (in its most detrimental sense...and though one can argue that Triumph exploited the post WWI German mindset, it was hardly as much of a contriubtor to Hitler's popularity as many analysts say. The ball had already been rolling and rolling fast, prior to its release). Though I do not agree with Griffith's images in those particular scenes, I deeply admire his honesty and think that it was his right to present those in the context of that film. It was his right as an American and as an Artist, beyond that.

When discussing "artistic responsibility," I would argue that films that manipulate and exploit social taboos, simply to derive a reactionary response from an audience to create a marketable "controversy," without caring enough to explore thier subjects in depth are of greater social detriment and are the only examples of films (in my mind) that should never be made (and this is moreso in thier lack of artist merit or honesty). One can say, "Oh, but there's no criteria for such a film," but we all know when we've seen one (hopefully) and if we don't, we'd ought to. I think that to casually approach untouched issues with the sole intent of making cash...to water down and degrade social taboos/tender social issues...is to only add to the problems of society. It is our jobs as artists to, as I said, exemplify the innate goodness in people and our world, even through the antithesis of that goodness (so that people can look at it and know the difference). When you blur the line by exploiting issues with casual disregard, that is when you must be held responsible.

The questions we must ask ourselves is: Is this genuine...is this me? (I would argue that in that sense, Birth of a Nation was warranted) Does this exemplify my morality or the antithesis of my morality in order to express to the world that which I believe is right and wrong? (I truly believe that to be so for Riefensthal, as she was a product of that manipulated mindset herself) Does this contribute anything to society, or does it simply exist to to damage the exploration of humanity? (both films certainly explored the nature of humanity)

What we must ask ourselves is: Is this, in fact, art? Or am I simply assuming it is?

And....as far as your conclusion that Leni Riefenstahl "should have been executed with the rest of them..." Would you say the same of Heidegger?

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 05 March 2007 - 11:33 AM.

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#3 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 11:46 AM

I know this wasn't the greatest written response or whatever...(I'm not that good at articulating my ideas properly...I get too many) but I hope you understand my point-of-view. I don't feel that these films were criminally irresponsible, aside from being so in hindsight. You must consider the cultural/social climate and influences of when they were made. When we know, in the moment, that we are being irresponsible, then it is, as you say, "Time to draw the line." Niether of these filmmakers went into production with the intent of creating an irresponsible piece...in fact, I would argue that they took on a large amount of responsibility in making them (and for what they set out to accomplish, especially since it coincided with thier personal morality at the time, they accomplished it masterfully). As I said...I don't approve of Nazi Germany nor do I approve of the Glorification of the KKK, but these films are still evolving in the purposes they serve UP TO THIS DAY. Peter Greenaway compared current cinema to the literature in Airport bookshops: they will be forgotten as soon as one closes the book. He cannot say the same for either of these pieces. Where they "BOAN" and "TOTW" once glorified the darkest areas of our humanity (which happened to coincide with the morality of the filmmaker at the time), they have now evolved into pieces that create contempt in the minds of modern day viewers. I am, without a doubt, glad they existed then and glad they still exist today. When art evolves as these pieces did, you know it is true art...and nothing should ever be cut from either.

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 05 March 2007 - 11:49 AM.

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#4 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:32 PM

And BOAN is not responsible for the ressurrection of the Ku Klux Klan (and you most certainly cannot put the wieght of all actions that followed on its shoulder), nor was Riefenstahl's documentary a sole contributor to the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany (once again, it, of all the other influences including Hitler himself--a man who was such a brilliant public speaker that didn't need propoganda to coerce people--cannot be blamed for the entire Holocaust). I would argue that you're relying a bit too much on dramatic effect in order to manipulate readers into agreeing with your points. As grotesque as they might be to watch today, "Triumph of the Will" and those scenes from "Birth of a Nation" are an irreplaceable look into the alernate point-of-view (devoid of all pretenses and nostalgia and only capable of being derived FROM one who authentically had that point-of-view) that helps us learn from the past and grow wiser about our present and future states.

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 05 March 2007 - 12:34 PM.

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#5 John Holland

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:35 PM

Robert your posts and replies [ in my mind ] are much to long .
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:42 PM

Anything is open in cinema as long as it does not become exploitation and is done with the agenda to somehow exemplify the good of human nature (even through the antithesis of mankind's innate goodness)...


Do you work for the MPAA? ha ha! That portion of your reply seemed a bit too "Hay's code" to me. If every film were made to show the good nature of humans (if there is such a thing), then people such as Lynch or Kubrick would not have been able to make the films they did.

"Birth of a Nation", despite it's exagerated and insulting depiction of African Americans, is a time capsule of the U.S.'s mentality racially. You don't have to say whether it's a great film or not, but you can't deny that it tells us something about the country in general during the period that it was made.

And I think Leni, a great filmmaker herself, was perhaps demonized more than she should have been. How many Nazi survivors of WWII are still alive today? And do we persecute them for following such an evil leader? It was simply the only way that she could live in her fatherland and still practice the craft she loved, and she's just one of millions of people who were taken up by the regime.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying their films are good or morally sound anyway...THEY'RE NOT! But, you can't deny the talent and importance of their films.

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#7 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:54 PM

Do you work for the MPAA? ha ha! That portion of your reply seemed a bit too "Hay's code" to me. If every film were made to show the good nature of humans (if there is such a thing), then people such as Lynch or Kubrick would not have been able to make the films they did.


Yo apparently didn't read when I said, "or the antithesis of that goodness so that people may know the difference." And NO...I HAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTEEEEE the MPAA. It has been killing the cinema ever since it began and is completely politically and financially motivated. It's absolutely sickening...I'd spit on Velenti's face if I met him in person and that's no joke. But you are deeply mistaken in the purpose of Kubrick and Lynch's films (and the films of many others). Perhaps Richard Sinclair articulates my beliefs better than I can: "He who does not really know the devil, can not defeat him. Ostrich like ignorance provides no power. Only those who understand at a deep level the evil they are dealing have any hope of victory. Remember, a devil to you, may be viewed by others as their salvation." I beg you do not misunderstand my words or intentions. And the heart of everypiece of art IS the struggle to define the nature of human goodness (which to say, "if such a thing exists," is philosophically ignorant), even through its antithesis. The films that are unexcusable (and not art) are the ones which rely on taboos (that need to be explored asis our job as filmmakers and artists) to generate cash flow and reactionary, faux-controversial response.

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 05 March 2007 - 12:56 PM.

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#8 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 12:58 PM

Yo apparently didn't read when I said, "or the antithesis of that goodness so that people may know the difference."


Sorry, former journalism major...give me a tendency to paraphrase and totally turn around people's quotes! ha ha

I still need to see "This Film Has Not Been Rated", I hear it's pretty amazing what they find out.
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#9 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 01:04 PM

Keep in mind, I'm not saying their films are good or morally sound anyway...THEY'RE NOT! But, you can't deny the talent and importance of their films.

Actually, as far as fimmaking is concerned, they are GLORIOUS works of art and the backbone for so much that followed. You're really only reiterating the points I already stated (though I suppose it was "too long"). Riefenstahl, like most of the German population, was preyed upon by Hitler's ideology, which manipulated post WWI disenchantment...those people adapted the beliefs of the regime into thier own morality and it was, during that peirod of time, completely morally sound to them. You can't criticize a filmas being "irresponsible" in hindsight...you can brand it immoral by the standards of today, but to call it "criminally irresponsible" insinuates that to stray from responsibility and to become reckless was the intent of the filmmaker. It was not in these cases at the time they were made. So much is decided in hindsight.

Sorry, former journalism major...give me a tendency to paraphrase and totally turn around people's quotes! ha ha

I still need to see "This Film Has Not Been Rated", I hear it's pretty amazing what they find out.



It's all good. I have trouble articulating my thoughts properly sometimes (in the form of essays or responses at least) because I get too many ideas going at once. I'm afraid I come off as sounding way too controversial when I write and that is not at all my intent. I don't know...I have plenty of time to practice and fix things I guess. It's so much easier to express ideas through narrative work and screenplays for me. :)

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 05 March 2007 - 01:06 PM.

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#10 Max Jacoby

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 05:22 PM

How many Nazi survivors of WWII are still alive today? And do we persecute them for following such an evil leader?

That is a very interesting part of German history, how quickly these Nazis got reassimilated back into the society. Only the biggest war criminals ever got put on trial, as prosecuting every single member of the Nazi party (about 8 Million if my memory serves correctly) would have been impossible. The fact that that whole past got swept under rug is something that created huge tensions in German society later on, as the descendants of these people became aware of the previous generations' past and started asking some hard questions.
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#11 Ken Cangi

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 07:35 PM

those people adapted the beliefs of the regime into thier own morality and it was, during that peirod of time, completely morally sound to them. You can't criticize a filmas being "irresponsible" in hindsight...you can brand it immoral by the standards of today, but to call it "criminally irresponsible" insinuates that to stray from responsibility and to become reckless was the intent of the filmmaker. It was not in these cases at the time they were made. So much is decided in hindsight.


No offense, RL, but this statement is not only eminently naive; it is implausible unless Riefenstahl were a complete imbecile. The skill with which this film was crafted, in conjunction with the fact that Riefenstahl insisted on complete creative control over its creation, precludes that notion.

Riefenstahl, in order to convince her detractors that she was not a Nazi propagandist, repeatedly argued that her film focused on images over ideas and was, consequently, a total work of art. She speciously argued that her film was a collection of images, yet she conveniently failed to address the composition into which those "innocuous" images were edited.

She later uses this argument: "If you see this film again today you ascertain that it doesn't contain a single reconstructed scene. Everything in it is true. And it contains no tendentious commentary at all. It is history. A pure historical film? it is film-vérité. It reflects the truth that was then in 1934, history. It is therefore a documentary. Not a propaganda film. Oh! I know very well what propaganda is. That consists of recreating events in order to illustrate a thesis, or, in the face of certain events, to let one thing go in order to accentuate another. I found myself, me, at the heart of an event which was the reality of a certain time and a certain place. My film is composed of what stemmed from that." Are we also to believe that she was unaware of anti-semetic comments in her film like: "A people that does not protect its racial purity will perish." Leni Riefenstahl ?

Triumph des Willens exemplifies "the propaganda film". By the duck analogy, there is no doubt that Riefenstahl had an understanding of her subject matter. Based on her arguments and all of the documented material, one could more than convincingly make the case for her having been a Nazi propagandist.

For anyone to refer to this film as art is, IMO, irresponsible and despicable.

Edited by Ken Cangi, 05 March 2007 - 07:37 PM.

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#12 Ken Cangi

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 07:51 PM

For clarity, I am editing my sentence from my previous post: "She speciously argued that her film was a collection of images, yet she conveniently failed to address the composition into which those "innocuous" images were edited."

I meant to say: She speciously argued that her film was a collection of art images by conveniently failing to address the composition into which those "innocuous" images were edited.

Edited by Ken Cangi, 05 March 2007 - 07:55 PM.

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#13 Rob.m.Neilson

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 08:07 PM

How many Nazi survivors of WWII are still alive today? And do we persecute them for following such an evil leader?


That is a very interesting part of German history, how quickly these Nazis got reassimilated back into the society. Only the biggest war criminals ever got put on trial, as prosecuting every single member of the Nazi party (about 8 Million if my memory serves correctly) would have been impossible. The fact that that whole past got swept under rug is something that created huge tensions in German society later on, as the descendants of these people became aware of the previous generations' past and started asking some hard questions.



If it wasnt for the German scientists that were imported to the US after the war we would have never had a succesful space program!
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#14 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 09:39 PM

No offense, RL, but this statement is not only eminently naive; it is implausible unless Riefenstahl were a complete imbecile. The skill with which this film was crafted, in conjunction with the fact that Riefenstahl insisted on complete creative control over its creation, precludes that notion.

Riefenstahl, in order to convince her detractors that she was not a Nazi propagandist, repeatedly argued that her film focused on images over ideas and was, consequently, a total work of art. She speciously argued that her film was a collection of images, yet she conveniently failed to address the composition into which those "innocuous" images were edited.

She later uses this argument: "If you see this film again today you ascertain that it doesn't contain a single reconstructed scene. Everything in it is true. And it contains no tendentious commentary at all. It is history. A pure historical film? it is film-vérité. It reflects the truth that was then in 1934, history. It is therefore a documentary. Not a propaganda film. Oh! I know very well what propaganda is. That consists of recreating events in order to illustrate a thesis, or, in the face of certain events, to let one thing go in order to accentuate another. I found myself, me, at the heart of an event which was the reality of a certain time and a certain place. My film is composed of what stemmed from that." Are we also to believe that she was unaware of anti-semetic comments in her film like: "A people that does not protect its racial purity will perish." Leni Riefenstahl ?

Triumph des Willens exemplifies "the propaganda film". By the duck analogy, there is no doubt that Riefenstahl had an understanding of her subject matter. Based on her arguments and all of the documented material, one could more than convincingly make the case for her having been a Nazi propagandist.

For anyone to refer to this film as art is, IMO, irresponsible and despicable.



You completely misunderstood what I wrote. I was saying that, because Riefenstahl adopted the moral conscience of Nazi Germany, her reasons for propogating Hitler cannot be articualted as being "criminally irresponsible" except in hidsight, as her creating the film was, at the time, morally justified to her. The film itself, as far as documentary filmmaking is concerned, is a masterpiece and the backbone for all documentaries that came after it. If you denounce this form being art, because of its affiliation and influential effect, you must certainly denounce many, many artworks (now heavily revered) that came before it and served similar purposes. You must understand that films evolve...the film is not simply finished as soon as it's cut and screened...the AUDIENCE finishes the film...through cognition, they piece together its meaning and applications and as itwas once used for Nazi propogand, it is now used to observe evil and learn from the mistakes of the past. In hindsight, one can easily say that it was "irresponsible" for Riefenstahl to have created this film....however she can't neccessarily be judged as having been morally irresponsible when she made it, as she was able to completely, morally justify it to herself during her submission to the nazi mindset. I am most certain she did have an understanding of her subject matter (I never implied she didn't), but as I've said over and over: at that time it fit into her morality and if it fits into one's morality, how can it be morally irresponsible on thier part in anyway aside from hindsight (which is why she now denies the content)?

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 05 March 2007 - 09:44 PM.

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#15 Ken Cangi

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 10:45 PM

You preface quite a few of your posts to people's responses with comments such as:

Yo apparently didn't read when I said

and:

You completely misunderstood what I wrote.

Could it possibly be that you aren't articulating your points very effectively? Just a thought.

I was saying that, because Riefenstahl adopted the moral conscience of Nazi Germany, her reasons for propogating Hitler cannot be articualted as being "criminally irresponsible" except in hidsight, as her creating the film was, at the time, morally justified to her.

So if I didn't completely misunderstand what you wrote this time, what you are saying is that Riefenstahl's visual promotion of racial cleansing was not criminally irresponsible because she had adopted Hitler's "moral conscience"? Interesting logic.

The film itself, as far as documentary filmmaking is concerned, is a masterpiece and the backbone for all documentaries that came after it. If you denounce this form being art, because of its affiliation and influential effect, you must certainly denounce many, many artworks (now heavily revered) that came before it and served similar purposes. You must understand that films evolve...the film is not simply finished as soon as it's cut and screened...the AUDIENCE finishes the film...

Did you arrive at this reality during an acid trip?

Here is the American Heritage definition of documentary:

doc·u·men·ta·ry (dky-mnt-r) KEY

ADJECTIVE:

Consisting of, concerning, or based on documents.
Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.
NOUN:
pl. doc·u·men·ta·ries
A work, such as a film or television program, presenting political, social, or historical subject matter in a factual and informative manner and often consisting of actual news films or interviews accompanied by narration.


Did you notice which fundamental component of that definition is missing from Riefenstahl's film? Did it also ever occur to you that many of the events portrayed in this movie might have been choreographed to coincide with its filming?

You must understand that films evolve...the film is not simply finished as soon as it's cut and screened...the AUDIENCE finishes the film...

Try this on for size: The portrayal of the message is developed in the filmmaking and editing process. The completed message is presented in the final cut. That message is then presented to the audience, after which time those audience members are free to interpret it in any number of ways, depending on things like personal ideology, morality, conscience, agenda, etc.

In hindsight, one can easily say that it was "irresponsible" for Riefenstahl to have created this film....however she can't neccessarily be judged as having been morally irresponsible when she made it, as she was able to completely, morally justify it to herself during her submission to the nazi mindset.

Considering the fact that Hitler's regime was ultimately deemed criminally culpable for crimes against humanity, Riefenstahl's knowing participation, IMO, was no less criminally punishable - especially considering her film's initial influence on the development of the Third Reich?

Edited by Ken Cangi, 05 March 2007 - 10:47 PM.

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#16 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 11:22 PM

e
Could it possibly be that you aren't articulating your points very effectively? Just a thought.


I've said numerous times that I have difficulty articulating my ideas properly. Perhaps if you didn't read my responses in excerpts, or simply with the eye to controdict theme to support your own points (most of which im in complete agreement with), you would have noticed that quote.

http://www.hanover.e..._02/sweeney.htm

That's about the role of the audience....

I wrote a really long response to this, but decided to just say...idk...just forget I wrote anything. It doesn't even matter that much to me. Just forget it. What I'm thinking makes sense to me...it's very sound...I just apparently can't articulate it properly, so forget it all. I think we are agreeing with eachother a lot more than you think we are, but forget it. Why does everyone give such confrontational, acid respoonses though? I really dont want to e "try something onfor size" when I'm discussing.

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 05 March 2007 - 11:25 PM.

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#17 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 12:17 AM

Anything is open in cinema as long as it does not become exploitation and is done with the agenda to somehow exemplify the good of human nature (even through the antithesis of mankind's innate goodness). I feel the "worst of humanity" is censorship, and sadly it's still being practiced today by the MPAA and the british govt. (a big example of this in the bast 20 yrs can be seen in Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover"). If we allow restraints to be placed, simply on the basis of whether or not it offends certain groups of people, then we will, in turn, be allowing the restraints to consume the art of cinema as a whole and dictate every exploration an artist wishes to make. If you ask me, Griffith's forced edit of Birth of a Nation is one of the biggest sins in cinematic history. While I do not in any way agree with his glorification of the KKK, it is nonetheless a deeply historical capsule and a window into the mindset of a man of that time. I think your assessment of Triumph of the Will is, in a sense, looking at it from the wrong perspective. When it was released, it exemplified the power of cinema...upon watching it today, we get a glimpse into the true evil that was Nazi Germany. In both time periods (though it carries a different effect today than it did when released), it is an irreplaceable experience. Also...why pick such examples as these? For thier time, in thier cultural and social environments, they weren't neccessarily, generally considered irresponsible. Deeming them "irresponsible" was done in hindsight...I especially imagine that in Nazi Germany, there was no anticipation of anyone looking back at that film as being "irresponsible." They also were very well made and, to a large extent, non-exploitative (in its most detrimental sense...and though one can argue that Triumph exploited the post WWI German mindset, it was hardly as much of a contriubtor to Hitler's popularity as many analysts say. The ball had already been rolling and rolling fast, prior to its release). Though I do not agree with Griffith's images in those particular scenes, I deeply admire his honesty and think that it was his right to present those in the context of that film. It was his right as an American and as an Artist, beyond that.

When discussing "artistic responsibility," I would argue that films that manipulate and exploit social taboos, simply to derive a reactionary response from an audience to create a marketable "controversy," without caring enough to explore thier subjects in depth are of greater social detriment and are the only examples of films (in my mind) that should never be made (and this is moreso in thier lack of artist merit or honesty). One can say, "Oh, but there's no criteria for such a film," but we all know when we've seen one (hopefully) and if we don't, we'd ought to. I think that to casually approach untouched issues with the sole intent of making cash...to water down and degrade social taboos/tender social issues...is to only add to the problems of society. It is our jobs as artists to, as I said, exemplify the innate goodness in people and our world, even through the antithesis of that goodness (so that people can look at it and know the difference). When you blur the line by exploiting issues with casual disregard, that is when you must be held responsible.

The questions we must ask ourselves is: Is this genuine...is this me? (I would argue that in that sense, Birth of a Nation was warranted) Does this exemplify my morality or the antithesis of my morality in order to express to the world that which I believe is right and wrong? (I truly believe that to be so for Riefensthal, as she was a product of that manipulated mindset herself) Does this contribute anything to society, or does it simply exist to to damage the exploration of humanity? (both films certainly explored the nature of humanity)

What we must ask ourselves is: Is this, in fact, art? Or am I simply assuming it is?

And....as far as your conclusion that Leni Riefenstahl "should have been executed with the rest of them..." Would you say the same of Heidegger?



So you would contend that it's an artist's right to produce art irrelivent of that art's concequences and that organizations like the MPAA should have no authority to rate films which in you're accessment is in defacto, a form of censorship as it restricts the audence that is allowed to see a particular film. Then let me pose other questions. Let's suppose for a moment that an artist makes what is essentially a children's film, but for some very valid artistic reason includes an explicit sex scene complete with full frontal nudity, perhaps even one that is a homosexual or incestual in nature or scenes of very graphic violence that is just at the edge of expliotation but can be justified within the context of the story, do you feel that there should still be unrestricted access to the material. If so , does the artist bare any responsibilities towards any minors that may suffer emotional or psychological trama from viewing such materials? What about an artist who believes there is artistic merit in makng something like "The Turner Diaries" into a feature motion picture. Would you feel that a film based on the book that inspired Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to commit the Oklahoma City bombing and ultimately led to the assaination of Alan Berg by "The Order", a White Power/Aryan Resistance movement affiliated with the Aryan Nations that took as its blueprint and manifesto William Pierce's The Turner Diaries should also be beyond censorship even though it would most likely cause widespread violence and death of innocent people and that the artist bares no responcibilty for the almost certain deaths, violence and suffering his art will cause? Also was Blackploitation art, as many movies such as Sweet Sweetback's BAAAADDDAAAASSSSSED Song and Shaft along with Coffee seemed to empower many blacks in the 70's yet were made as purely exploitaion pictures? Were is the line between art and exploitation. Is Kill Bill art or exploitation and if art where in the line? Is art again, determioned by the audeance viewing the piece, irrelevent of the artist's intention or is the artist's intention primary to what makes it art? As for your question to me, Heidegger's influence was not nearly as widespred as Riefenstahl's, so though I'm inclined to actually say yes, I'll say no. I suppose it's simply a matter of success. If Riefenstahl had been less of a great filmmaker, we would even be having this conversation with her included. The fact that she was so good makes it all the more sad and infuriating to me that she used that talent for evil. If it was the only way she could work in Germany at the time as a filmmaker, I find ths argument even more dispicable, to have believed the message the Nazi, one might make an argument that she was mearly miss-guided and a pawn in the Nazi machine, but to have done this kind of work just so you would have a career while KNOWING it was evil, is truely selling your soul to the Devil. B)
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#18 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 12:29 AM

I've said numerous times that I have difficulty articulating my ideas properly. Perhaps if you didn't read my responses in excerpts, or simply with the eye to controdict theme to support your own points (most of which im in complete agreement with), you would have noticed that quote.

http://www.hanover.e..._02/sweeney.htm

That's about the role of the audience....

I wrote a really long response to this, but decided to just say...idk...just forget I wrote anything. It doesn't even matter that much to me. Just forget it. What I'm thinking makes sense to me...it's very sound...I just apparently can't articulate it properly, so forget it all. I think we are agreeing with eachother a lot more than you think we are, but forget it. Why does everyone give such confrontational, acid respoonses though? I really dont want to e "try something onfor size" when I'm discussing.


Confrontation is kinda the point of having a debate. A debate is the free exchange of contriditory ideas in exploration of a subject. It isn't personal. If we didn't have confrontation, we wouldn't be having a debate or a discussion, we'd be having an "agree" . I wouldn't shy away from cofrontation if I were you. Confrontation is conflict and all drama is conflict. You might say we're in the busieness of CREATING confict for the entertainment of others. B)
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#19 Ken Cangi

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 10:13 AM

Come on, Robert. Sack up. You will never survive a debate - especially one on a topic this controversial - if you keep folding so easily. Don't take this stuff personally. Hang in there and organize your arguments, so that you don't have to apologize for not making yourself clear. It would also help if you weren't stoned while forming your hypotheses. LOL. Just kidding.

Perhaps if you didn't read my responses in excerpts, or simply with the eye to controdict theme to support your own points (most of which im in complete agreement with), you would have noticed that quote.

You are mistaking reading you in excerpts for my responding to your posts point by point.

http://www.hanover.e..._02/sweeney.htm

I just read Sweeney's explanation of cognitivism and it corroborates almost exactly my response to you in my last post. It is not clear to me, by what you wrote in your last post, that you even understand what Sweeney is trying to say. If you do, then your problem isn't comprehension; it is a severe lack of writing skills. I know! I know! You already pointed that out. I am just driving the point home so that you will make an effort to think your arguments through more carefully. You see - the thing about cognitivism is that it is less likely that a person will subjectively interpret your message - at least to a greater extent - if it is articulated in a carefully thought out manner that explains specifically what you are trying to say.

Why does everyone give such confrontational, acid respoonses though? I really dont want to e "try something onfor size" when I'm discussing

That wasn't a confrontational, acid response. It is called sarcasm, which is meant to add humor to the discussion. Live a little, laugh a little, and don't take yourself so seriously. We are discussing a seventy-three year old propaganda flick, made by a opportunistic racist, who is now pushing up daisies. It's old news.

For what its worth, Robert, I hope that you stay in the game. You are a pleasant guy, and you bring up interesting topics, even if you don't understand them. JUST KIDDING!

Cheers,

Ken
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#20 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 08:42 PM

Meh.

"Heidegger"

"Origin of the Work of Art."

"Jux" = as well "A representation of my present state, irreplaceable and unforseeable in its nature."

I don't feel I need to "Sack up." I simply feel that there are other topics on this forum for me to be passionate about and I don't wish to have this turn into something as large scale and exhausting as the Academy Awards thread. So, "I surrender."

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 06 March 2007 - 08:46 PM.

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