Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Leni Riefenstahl, 1902-2003


Leni Riefenstahl died on Sept. 8, 2003, in Poecking, Germany, a few weeks after her 101st birthday. Following a knee injury that ended her career as a dancer, Riefenstahl turned to film, gaining fame as an actress, director, producer and reporter. Her documentary "Triumph des Willens," named after the 1934 Reich Party Congress in Nuremberg, garnered her gold medals in Venice in 1935 and at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. In subsequent years, however, the film was widely condemned as National Socialist propaganda. Although Riefenstahl vigorously denied supporting Adolf Hitler's genocidal policies, her early association with Nazism would taint opinions about her work for the rest of her life.

Unable to resume her career in motion pictures after World War II, Riefenstahl took up still photography in the 1960s and traveled to the Sudan, where she recorded the life of the Nuba. Those pictures were published in Stern, the Sunday Times Magazine, Paris Match and Newsweek, and later became the subject of her illustrated books, "The Nuba" and "The Nuba of Kau."