Why was the movie Triumph of the Will such an effective piece of propaganda? What techniques did the director use to convey her message?
Propaganda is a communication act aimed at influencing the audience to adopt a certain point of view. The word has acquired a negative connotation given that it could amount to lying by omitting some details or truth even though it initially had a neutral connotation.
The movie starts with some texts on the screen showing that Germany had been at war for quite a long period than it had been at peace. This is partly true because the period between WWI and WWII was too short. Apart from the world wars, Germany also had its own internal problems. Everyone in the movie, however, has a feeling that things will soon be alright given the kind of a leader they have in place. Clouds are shown moving above the people in the city waiting for Hitler and other dignitaries to arrive (YouTube Episode I).
It is a spectacular view and Hitler soon arrives in a plane. Not many people at that time could travel in a plane. This gives the people the message that they have a powerful leader and that everything will be fine. This, however, is just propaganda because Hitler is not telling them the truth of what they were to expect in the future, especially WWII. Later in the evening Hitler goes and sleeps in a hotel.
The following morning, he officially and formally launches the congress party. The launch is attended by many people and Hitler gives a lengthy speech (YouTube Episode II). Hitler, to be specific, gives re-assuring speech that he would bring peace, food and power- both economic and military- to Germany.
He then congratulates the German labor force for their good work of rebuilding the country. This is propaganda because the development of Germany was not based on the efforts of the labor force alone, but also on all German citizens and the world at large.
We are shown the dignitaries as they arrive and Hitler addressing a youth rally. This gives the youths a feeling that they are together as men (YouTube Episode II). That evening, Hitler gives a speech to the congress party officials. He is often heard saying that the party and the country are one and the same thing. This is partly false because the party, though national, was to serve his interests to the greater extent.
On day 3, Hitler starts by inspecting the country’s security troops parade (YouTube Episode III). In his speech to the security troops, Hitler says that all the crimes that they had committed had been forgiven and forgotten. This is not true because he is taking the role of God to forgive sins. The party’s flag is also shown on several occasions. On his closing speech, Hitler says that only the loyal Germans will become national socialists and only the best national socialists are party comrades.
It was Hitler’s idea to produce the movie. He did not want an accurate movie. He wanted to spread propaganda; the sweet lies and not the bitter truth. The movie was to interest the people who were not Hitler’s political followers. He did not want the true nature of politics shown, but only that which is good in the eyes and ears of the viewers.
The movie has many scenes with some religious implications. There are church bells being heard and there is also the image if Bishop Ludwig and his descending from the plane like a god while even the cat stops to look at the plane (YouTube Episode I). In his speech, Hitler compares the party to a holy order.
Therefore, the party is holy with the best of intentions. There is also the use of candles and fireworks as he speaks to show a sense of some light at the end of the tunnel. All these scenes are to make his regime seem good whereas this was not the case. It was just to gain the support of the people.
The theme of the film is unity. The film spreads a unified propaganda showing just how good the country and its people were doing. There is unity among the people as they cheer Hitler. The soldiers are shown to live in neatly arranged tents. They also do not wear shirts when in their residential areas as this makes them unequal since shirts reveal their ranks. They also carry their spades that represent guns in the same way.
The issue of labor was also addressed. Hitler in his speech assures the workers that there will be no class divisions and discriminations in the labor-force. This is all propaganda as we well know that this has never and will never happen. There will always be social class stratification and discrimination among social classes.
Unity is also shown between the party and the country. The poor are shown greeting Hitler. The old Germany flag is also shown to show that there is the unity between the old and the new Germany. Hitler even goes ahead to pay respect to the soldiers who died in WWI. He goes ahead to say that those who are not of the Aryan race, the sick, the weak and the handicapped should be wiped from the country so as to remain with the strong hence a strong and a pure nation (YouTube Episode III).
YouTube. Triumph des Willens (1935) – Triumph of the Will. YouTube, n.d. Web. 20 May 2012.