Downing, Taylor. Olympia. London: BFI Publishing, 1992.
The chapter “Aftermath” in Taylor Downing’s examination of Olympia describes the reception of the film and its post-release history. Initially the film received generally positive reviews, but as Germany became more threatening, Riefenstahl and the film became less popular, resulting in a boycott of the film in the United States. For the rest of her life, Riefenstahl would have trouble clearing her reputation for her involvement with the Nazi party. The film stands as a major artistic achievement, however, and the author notes its influence on films about future Olympics, although competition with television coverage of the games made a cinematic masterpiece such as Olympia more difficult. Downing argues that Olympia beautifully captured the spirit of the Olympics, and Riefenstahl’s use of retakes in the film aid its artistic vision if they decrease its level of journalism.
The chapter concludes by grappling with the film’s propaganda question. Downing notes that the Berlin Olympics themselves were designed as propaganda to promote Germany as a friendly, peace-loving nation, and hence the Nazi party invested in Riefenstahl’s production to display their propaganda to the world. The author affirms Riefenstahl’s artistic independence during the production, however, and concludes the film is not intentionally propagandistic. Nevertheless, he maintains the film is still political since it was set up for political reasons and documents a political event, but he argues this fact does not and should not detract from its artistic merit.