måndag 7 oktober 2013

Leni Riefenstahl was one tough cookie.

Casual Friday with Leni and friend

Amazing what an affiliation with the worlds most reviled regime can hurt your career. So yeah Leni was a film maker for The Third Reich,kinda hard to not mention. She did some propaganda films for the Nazis depicting Adolf Hitler as a really swell dude. Those films had a really small market after the war for some reason and pretty much ruined her career. But, as far less people know, she still led an incredibly inspiring life.

This is about positive things so let's not dwell on the Nazi issue for too long but it needs some mentioning even though her later part of life was far more interesting. She did Olympia. Widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time. She invented new techniques that are still in use today. She set the gold standard for how sports is filmed. As a sidenote i might mention that Joseph Goebbels had a finger in pretty much every film produced during that era except for Leni's. She had her own production company. Maybe that's why he hated her. Or maybe because she refused his invitations unlike most other women during that time in the German film industry. We might never know.

So the war ended and the demand for German propaganda films were slim to say the least, what's a girl to do ?

She did try to make films but that didn't pan out for obvious reasons.

In the 60ies she took an interest in photography and Africa. So why not go to Africa and photograph ? Brilliant! That's exactly what she did. She traveled to Sudan and photographed the Nuba tribes and later published 2 books about it which became bestsellers. 2 things to note, Leni was born 1902 so she was well into her 60ies during that time. Traveling thru the African wilderness in scorching heat. Now that's something.
She met her lifetime companion during that time who was 40 years her senior. She was 60,he was 20 and they were together until her death at 101! She frequented Sudan so many times she finally got a Sudanese passport. The first foreigner ever to get one.

At 70 you'd think it was time to slow down but that was not in her book. She took up scuba diving and under water photography,i mean why not ? Well it seems you can't get a scuba certificate at that age but that wasn't going to keep her from getting what she wanted. She's been kinda accustomed to that and that wasn't about to change any tome soon. So she got a fake id,shaving off 20 years in the process and got her certificate. She kept that up until she was a 100 years old and gained the distinction of being the world's oldest scuba diver.

At 70 that times comes when you start to plan for your future. So Leni started planning a movie that should premiere on her 100th birthday. Now that's planning ahead. She did finish it and it did premiere on her 100th birthday. Fortune favors the prepared mind. 

At 97 she hadn't seen her Nuban friends in Sudan for a long time and decided to go there. The only problem was that were a civil was in full swing but she was still young in mind and used to getting her way so she made the necessary arrangements,which were no picnic mind you, and went there anyway. During her stay, the war came closer and she was forces to flee by helicopter. The helicopter had a horrific crash but since she was still young and vital, the result was only minor. Some cracked ribs and a collapsed lung,nothing serious. Remember she was 97 and kept on scuba diving or 3 years.

At age 100 she attended the premiere of her film Impressionen unter Wasser with her trusted partner at her side,now 60. 

In 2003 she celebrated her 101th birthday and decided to become an honorable woman and married her partner since 40 years Horst Kettner. That was the final adventure and she died in her sleep less than a month later.

So there you have it,the story about Leni Riefenstahl,one of the most fascinating women ever.

1. Told Joseph Goebbels to go f*** himself and lived to tell about it.
2. Revolutionized filming and changed it forever. Made one of the best films ever.
3. Got 40 year younger boyfriend at age 60.
4. First foreigner ever to get a Sudanese passport.
5. Took up scuba diving at age 70 and 30 years later was still at it becoming the worlds oldest scuba diver.
6. Survived a helicopter crash at age 97.
7. Married her 40 years younger boyfriend at age 101.  

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