Hard on the heels of Jurgen Trimborn‘s Leni Reifenstahl: A Life (Faber and Faber, 1./23.07), a galley proof of Stephen Bach‘s Leni:, The Life and Work of Leni Reifenstahl arrived yesterday via messenger. I went through 30 or so pages last night during dinner, and it’s obviously a very smart and perceptive read — thorough, respectful, in some ways admiring but always clear-eyed and carefully measured.
I was struck by the following graph in the final chapter: “Thomas Mann once wrote that ‘art is moral in that it awakens,’ but Leni’s art dulled and deceived. It is the perfect expression of the machinery of amnipulation it glorifies” in her two Nazi-era classics, Triumph of the Will and Olympia. Her films are, in the words of David Thomson, ‘the most honest and compelling fruit of fascist temperament — triumphant, certain and dreadful.'”