I watched a video of Donald Trump that supposedly shows what a great person he is—but I think the video is scary. No he doesn’t incite any one to violence in the video. He doesn’t make racist remarks or suggest that an American soldier is not a hero because he was captured. The video is light, happiness and promises—and yet—the words, the music, (yes the music) and the devotion of the individuals and massive crowds remind me of another time and place.
A sociology class I took so many years ago, about cults, what we now generally refer to as new religions, featured, during the last quarter a section on Hitler and the Nazis. The professor understood the Nazis to be the ultimate cult; Germany was a nation enveloped by a cult. A cult in the true sense of that word, not a new religion but an intolerant movement led by an authoritarian individual.
When I watched the Trump video I was reminded of a movie we watched in the class. Not all of the movie but certain parts of it. In 1935 after Hitler had become chancellor of Germany he commissioned Leni Riefenstahl to produce the film Triumph of the Will. Although he also helped in its production. One of those who has posted the film on YouTube wrote of it:
“Triumph of the Will became an example of propaganda in film history. Riefenstahl's techniques, such as moving cameras, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, aerial photography, and revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography, have earned Triumph of the Will recognition as one of the greatest films in history. Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden, and other countries. The film was popular in the Third Reich, and has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day.”
It is the music, the positive outlook and the adulation of the people toward Hitler which reminds me of the video about Trump. It isn’t that I see Trump as Hitler but I see in both films an authoritarian leader or potential leader whose authoritarianism is hidden because of the careless and blind enthusiasm of the people following him. And it isn’t that the video about Trump is a great work of art—it isn’t—but the way the music in the first of the Hitler film and in the last of the Trump film is used is the same.
And so I am placing first the Trump video and then the Triumph of the Will movie. Be sure and listen to the end of the Trump video and listen to the music. When watching the Hitler film you will probably only want to watch the very early parts which include Hitler flying in an airplane and being greeted by crowds of people all raising their hands to him. In this film also note the music.