By Karin Wieland
Magisterial in scope, this twin biography examines advanced lives that begun alike yet ended on contrary facets of the century's maximum conflict.
Born on the sunrise of the 20 th century, Leni Riefenstahl and Marlene Dietrich either got here of age in Weimar Berlin, a time of significant political ferment. Glamour and decadence thrived beside abject poverty, and the German capital's outpouring of literature, style, and movie marked it because the most important ecu city. As younger ladies of this period, Dietrich and Riefenstahl lived so just about one another that Riefenstahl may possibly see into Dietrich's residence from the roof of her development. either ladies seized upon the innovative strength of the Nineteen Twenties, looking careers at the level and in film.
In 1929, filmmakers have been casting what could turn into the long-lasting function of Lola-Lola (who made "Falling in Love Again" a sensation) within the groundbreaking sound movie The Blue Angel. Riefenstahl—whose paintings in her "mountain films" had already made her a countrywide logo for the athletic rigor and lively independence of the recent Woman—hoped for the half yet didn't get it. just a couple of years later she grew to become the legitimate filmmaker of the 3rd Reich. Dietrich, even if, received the position and the adoration of thousands whilst she moved to Hollywood and redefined the "vixen" for a brand new era.
While Dietrich's slim and androgynous attractiveness made her a way icon whose effect might be obvious to at the present time, Riefenstahl's personal iconography isn't any much less indelible. along with her paintings on of the main notorious—if artistically sophisticated—propaganda movies of all time—Triumph of the desire and Olympia—Riefenstahl used to be a progenitor of fascist symbolism. After the struggle she proclaimed her lack of understanding of Hitler's reasons, yet she may perhaps by no means thoroughly distance herself from her Nazi collaboration. Dietrich vehemently condemned Hitler in the course of global struggle II and located a renewed experience of objective traveling with the USO, yet consequently she may by no means with ease go back to her local Germany.
Both girls have been "prodigies of will, self-discipline, persistence, self-reinvention, and exaltation of the physique in all its muscular, androgynous, pose-striking pagan glory" (James Wolcott), and either had their grand passions, yet neither deserted ambition for the sake of affection. As award-winning biographer Karin Wieland exhibits, of their later years, either girls grappled with controlling their image—Riefenstahl by means of pursuing an extra occupation in images, and Dietrich through finally hiding at domestic as her well-known good looks was once ravaged by way of time.
Skillfully juxtaposing those attention-grabbing lives, Wieland brings to vibrant existence a time of foreign upheaval, chronicling radical evolutions of politics, status, and femininity on a grand level. reading the ethical accountability of the artist, Wieland poses questions as deeply proper to our century as to the final. A magisterial portrait of 2 diverging yet lasting pictures of the trendy girl, Dietrich & Riefenstahl is "a superb" (Die Zeit) landscape of the 20th century.
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Additional info for Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives
But one example stands out. Jim Rasmussen was a little weasel with perfect teeth and a brush haircut that palled around with the larger, more athletic kids. He had a fast mouth, and either started the Jewboy thing or ran 56 with it when it took off. ” I tried to ignore him and he seemed to feel his part of the ritual had been fulfilled. One day, however, Jim goaded a quiet moon-faced kid named Jon Skow, who lived in the alley behind me, to start a fight. It was strange, because Jon was nice enough, and occasionally, we walked to school together.
Finally, John Isbell stepped into the circle and pulled him off of me. Walking home with John, it wasn’t the fight that burned my eyes and made my head swim: it was seeing a “friend” sell me out so quickly, just to be able to sit at a lunch table with kids who wore tanker jackets and put Brill Creme in their hair. That was it. The total substance behind Jon Skow’s agreeing to hurt a friend was a better seat at the lunch table. The real pain was yet to come. The next morning, I met him on the street, and he wanted to walk to school with me as if nothing had happened.
Life before sound pollution — with fewer cars, less construction and no constant TV chatter — was simply more peaceful: streets were quieter, houses were quieter, the whole world was quieter. Maybe because of this, the sound of a record just seemed to leap out of the phonograph at you, like a wild creature from a distant place, even though you knew it was only a steel needle vibrating in a wax groove. But that 47 was it: I was called by the music. I wanted to be there in the worst way, in that place, that bar, that restaurant, that pad, that studio, that scene — it didn’t really matter where, as long as it was where this sound was happening.
Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives by Karin Wieland