A Bluray of the restored Triumph of the Will (Synapse Films, 12.15) arrived yesterday. As expected, it’s the cleanest and sharpest rendering of this depraved but masterful propaganda classic ever. Supervised by restoration guru Robert Harris, the effort took two years. It’s derived from a new 2K scan, involved over 100,000 frames that were hand-cleaned and a fair amount of digital de-graining. But something grabs your attention even before watching the disc, and that’s the decision to abandon the traditional blue-trim packaging (routine on just about every Bluray the world over) in favor of funereal black. Harris says he insisted on the black trim, and that the Synapse guys, who had submitted a traditional blue-trim jacket to online sellers like Amazon a few weeks ago, agreed without issue. We all understand the metaphor.
Black plastic jacket for Synapse Films’ Triumph of the Will Bluray (12.15).
Synapse packaging as it appeared on Amazon last month
From a 10.29.15 riff: “The usual mixed feelings apply. Even when a film delivers repellent content true cineastes are able to recognize highly effective and even mesmerizing chops when they see them. I once bickered with Manohla Dargis along these general lines a dozen years ago. She was saying Triumph of the Will was and is reprehensible and I was saying, ‘Yeah, of course, no dispute…but you can’t say Riefenstahl didn’t have a great eye and a commanding visual style.’
The aspect ratio of this new Bluray is 1.19:1 — boxy heaven. The film is offered in original German with all-new, on-screen identifications and newly translated removable English subtitles for the speeches. Riefenstahl’s Day of Freedom, a short film remastered in 2K HD, is also included. Plus audio commentary by Dr. Anthony R. Santoro, a specialist on National Socialist German history.