BR: Day of Freedom / Tag der Freiheit (1935)

February 5, 2016 | By

TriumphOfTheWillSynapse_BRFilm: Very Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label:  Synapse Films

Region: A, B, C

Released:  December 8, 2015

Genre:  Documentary / Propaganda / WWII / Third Reich

Synopsis: Short follow-up to Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” covering the showy maneuvers of the Infantry at the 1935 Nuremberg Nazi party rally.

Special Features:  Bonus short on Synapse’s Blu-ray edition of “Triumph of the Will.”




The peculiar background behind what seems like a generic short-form tribute to the Third Reich infantry stems from the Wehrmacht being peeved by receiving not only a paltry 2 mins. of screen time in Triumph of the Will (1934), but having to fight for that much of an allotment in what was the Nazi party’s definitive propaganda advert.

Why couldn’t the NSDAP have featured more of the infantry?

Well, bickering seemed to work, as Leni Riefenstahl was tasked with doing a better job by filming division demonstrations of the horse mounted division, the artillery, and the air force, and what emerged in this fairly short film feels somewhat like the sequence that should’ve been in Triumph, but it’s so stylistically different that it had to be its own thing.

Besides swastikas and the appearance of Adolf Hitler & Co. (Joseph Goebbels and a slender, pre-art thieving Hermann Goering), Freedom is really a standard if not kinetically edited short of the Wehrmacht as it displays horseback infantry, the fast maneuvering of tanks and armed vehicles, and most interesting, the dragging, assembly, and usage of portable anti-aircraft canons.

Freedom does follow the classic Riefenstahlian format of early morning wakeup, grooming, and readiness for the day’s events, but there’s really no ideology within the short beyond the main titles. It’s a film about maneuvers and the intricacies of big portable guns, and while short, it’s an impressive glimpse into the Wehrmacht as it places all of its key divisions on show in one locale, with tanks often driving dangerously close to humans, or men tumbling from fast-moving motorbikes to roll and settle into defensive positions. One presumes no one was flattened during filming, and the big guns were launching blanks at the waves of air force planes, which includes some rare biplanes.

A capable camera crew captured some fascinating details that will please WWII buffs, plus some great (if not too brief) areal footage of planes in formation and their whirling turbines and dangerously exposed top-level gunners.

Freedom was previously released in Warner Home Video’s great (and long gone) short film anthology series Short 8: Vision (2000) with a commentary track by historian Robert von Dassanowksy, Ph.D. Synapse’s release of Triumph of the Will includes Freedom as a bonus short, and the 2K transfer looks and sounds gorgeous. Synapse includes burnt-in captions (which are oddly removable on the 2006 DVD) which single out Nazi officials and brief set-ups for the sequences, and like their Triumph transfer, there’s a Film Preserve bug that appears a few times in the lower right hand corner (not present on the 2006 DVD).

On its own, Riefenstahl’s last propaganda film is still impressive, and forms the final third of her Nazi trilogy, which specifically feted the Nazi party as it was poised to start WWII and murder millions of innocents, wreaking absolute ruin on Germany by the end of the war.

Leni Riefenstahl’s films as director include The Blue Light / Das blaue Licht (1932), Victory of the Faith / Der Sieg der Glaubens (1933), Triumph of the Will / Triumph des Willens (1935), Day of Freedom / Tag der Freiheit (1935), Olympia Parts One and Two (1938), Tiefland (1954), and Underwater Impressions / Impressionen unter Wasser (2002).

She was also profiled in Ray Ray Müller’s brilliant The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl / Die Macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl (1993) which also includes images from her stills and filming of the African Nuba tribe (later documented in book form) and her work as perhaps the world’s only octogenarian underwater cinematographer.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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