Schneider, Robert C., and William F. Stier. “Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Olympia’: Brilliant Cinematography or Nazi Propaganda?” The Sport Journal 4.4 (Fall 2001). 31 Mar. 2008 <http://www.thesportjournal.org/article/leni-riefenstahls-olympia-brilliant-cinematography-or-nazi-propaganda>.
This article provides an overview of the debate about whether Olympia qualifies as a Nazi propaganda film. It presents many of the arguments’ pros and cons, and the authors ultimately side with the belief that the film did contribute to the Nazi movement, though in subtle ways. They reject the claim that Riefenstahl, and by extension her film, was removed from Nazi politics because of her professional talent and political skills that provided her with connections to the Nazi party. The authors acknowledge that it is difficult to prove that Olympia was produced with the intent of serving as propaganda, but they maintain that the film functions as propaganda anyway, largely because it portrays Germany in a kind and positive light, even if it does not attempt to indoctrinate its viewers with Nazi principles. One of the ways it does this is by portraying the athletes of other nations positively, hence harboring good will towards the seemingly fair host nation, Germany. Additionally, the fact that Olympia’s finances were controlled by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, lends support to the argument that the film served certain propagandistic purposes. On the flip side, the seemingly unbiased depiction of the multinational athletes lends credence to the argument that the film is not propaganda. Riefenstahl even resisted pressure from Goebbels to modify the film to endorse Nazi beliefs. After acknowledging both sides of the debate, the article concludes with more support for the argument that the film is propagandistic.
The article is directly relevant to the film Olympia and the question of whether it is a Nazi propaganda film. While the article is not as in-depth as some other sources on the topic, such as Cooper C. Graham’s work on the film, it does provide a succinct overview of the debate and several of its key points.