- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

One of the most important films in cinema history has been pulled from YouTube under its hate speech policy.

Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will,” a German propaganda documentary on the 1934 Nazi Party Rally at Nuremberg, was removed under a new policy announced Wednesday against “videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory,” a policy that leaves untouched works of the cinema canon that glorify Stalin-era communism.

While “Triumph of the Will” very obviously glorifies Nazism and dictator Adolf Hitler, it’s also central to the cinema canon, especially in the fields of documentary movies and propaganda films, and has, in the words of Eric Kohn at IndieWire “major historical value, raising essential questions about the nature of the film medium.”

Mr. Kohn noted that “despite the film’s aims, it has been taught in universities for decades — and not because film professors hope to advance the horrific mindset of the Third Reich.

“The movie uses the singular power of the medium to glorify Adolf Hitler in visceral terms: From the moment the filmmaker’s camera advances through the clouds, tracking Hitler’s descent to the rising crescendo of Wagner’s ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,’ it elevates the rising dictator to god-like stature. Similarly, montages of soldiers saluting their leader — and, later, children in a Hitler Youth parade — illustrate the capacity of the Third Reich to convey the deranged euphoria of subservience,” he wrote.

A request for comment to IndieWire from YouTube did not get a response.

On Thursday, numerous videos of some of the film masterpieces made by and under the Soviet Communist regime of the 1920s and early 30s remained freely available on YouTube.

Those videos included whole films and/or clips from films both as canonized and as propagandistic as “Triumph of the Will”: Sergei Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin” and “October,” Alexander Dovzhenko’s “Earth,” Dziga Vertov’s “Man With A Movie Camera,” and Vsevolod Pudovkin’s “Mother” and “Storm Over Asia.”

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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