Leni Riefenstahl’s next cinematic work was very likely made
specifically for Adolf Hitler himself. The film was financed by Hitler through the
German government; it is a film version of Adolf Hitler’s favorite opera: Tiefland
by Eugen d’Albert.
Based on the great Catalan writer Àngel Guimerà’s 1896 play Terra
baixa; Eugen d’Albert’s Tiefland was his seventh and most famous Opera; though
not immediately popular, the opera would garner international acclaim shortly after
it was reworked by d’Albert in 1907.
Tiefland would be Leni Riefenstahl’s last full length feature
film. Once again she would direct, write, star, edit, and produce the film.
I’ve seen the film and it is a very high quality work, it’s a very artistic
film and I feel that Leni Riefenstahl’s vision is well supported, especially
taking into consideration that the film was created during such a hectic time
in her life, and of course a very hectic time for the entire world.
While Tiefland is not quite as much of a breakthrough as
Leni Riefenstahl’s great work done in Triumph of the Will and Olympia; Tiefland
is full of extremely high quality, beautiful shots, and I believe it to be a
fine film overall.
The one draining issue with Tiefland is that some of the
actors were taken out of concentration camps and put to work on the film. Both
Sinti and Roma gypsies were taken from concentration camps nearby wherever the
shooting location was at the time.
It’s said that the actors in the film were later put to
death at some point after returning to the concentration camps. Whether that is
true is unknown to me, but it seems that it was likely unknown to Leni Riefenstahl
if it were true, as she denied anything like that ever happening. Regardless of
the fact that many of the actors in the film were gypsies, or whether they were
being forced into doing the work or not, or whether they were killed by the
Nazi’s at some point after the filming was finished; we have to realize that it
was a terrible situation for them, as well as many other people during World
War II, but it is a fact of Germany from that period in time, one that we have
to accept and deal with.
It’s unknown to me how Leni Riefenstahl treated her actors,
but I can’t see it as having been too bad, certainly not as bad as what was
happening to them inside of their concentration camps; taking into account the
fact that she was acting right there along with them. Who can say how they were
treated while in her presence and working with her though.