Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
The vilification of Leni Riefenstahl
BEING Russian, I was struck by similarities between Leni Riefenstahl and Sergei Eisenstein: both are considered to be people who changed film-making artistically, both worked for brutal regimes, but one never hears anything but praise about Eisenstein -- and rarely anything but villification as Nazi Propagandist about Leni Riefenstahl.
Jews in Russia taking a very active, then leading role in the 1917 Revolution and running of the country afterwards, protection laws were very quicly enacted by the predominantly Jewish rulers of the new USSR punishing "anti-semitism" (during the Civil War the Jewish population suffered much retribution for the role of their brethren fighting on the side of Bolsheviks), and declaring Jews a nationality that had been oppressed.
This meant that while educated Russians were banned from any teaching, managerial etc. positions, these restrictions did not exist for the Jews. Very soon the Jewish presence among the new bureaucracy was astounding. As another result, the feeling among Jews was that it was "their" revolution, their idology, their power.
Film-making was immediately recognized as part of all-important propaganda and people like Sergei Eisenstein willingly worked creating the new language to be used on the masses. His innovative techniques (montage is most often cited) are continued to be recognized now.
While communism criminality and mind-numbing atrocities have long been documented as being on par with those by the Nazis, it's very uncommon to hear the same characterisation of one of chief and very willing propagandist to a murderous regime being hurled at Eisenstein.
Moreover, Eisenstein is very often portrayed as a victim, an artist whose art "continually suffered from communist incursions"! While it is true that Stalin later consistently replaced the "old guard" of the Revolution with people of his choice, and that he did pay serious attention to eliminating Jews from positions of power as his political rivals, Eisenstein to the end of his days continued to produce propaganda, in which internal and concrete details might have been disliked and/or corrected by his censors, but his willingness to work for the regime was never questioned, as far as I know.
Being one of the "us" in one case -- and one of "them" in the other -- in the predominantly Jewish business of Hollywood film-making and the largely Jewish-controlled business of newspaper-making are the only reasons for continued discrimination between these two directors in the accepted Western history of film that I can think of.
There was a TIME article, about one year ago, in which the author, Richard Corliss, tried to be more objective.
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