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Lunchtime event: Desired Bodies : Leni Riefenstahl, the Berlin Olympics 1936 and Aryan Masculinity

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Dr Daniel Wildmann

As the Olympics come to London in 2012, the Wiener Library’s temporary exhibition ‘The Nazi Games: Politics, the Media and the Body’ looks back to 1930s Berlin. Open from 14 June until 3 October 2012, the exhibition showcases fascinating items form the Wiener Library’s unique collection of material relating to the Berlin Games of 1936. One of the themes highlighted in the exhibition is the Nazi appropriation of images of sporting bodies as a tool of propaganda, most particularly in the film and photography work of Leni Riefenstahl. 

This lunchtime lecture will look at the visual language of Riefenstahl’s film Olympia – The film of the 11th Olympic Games Berlin 1936- a film still highly acclaimed today. It will analyse how Riefenstahl ‘staged’ Aryan masculinity and conveyed antisemitism in the film – alongside a specific interpretation of the role of Greek mythology. It will also shed light on the influence of bourgeois culture on National Socialist ideology – a devastating combination of culture and ideology that confronted German Jewry from 1933. 

Dr Daniel Wildmann (LBI London; Queen Mary, University of London) Desired Bodies : Leni Riefenstahl, the Berlin Olympics 1936 and Aryan Masculinity 

The lecture took place at The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DP.