chapter
18 Pages

Introduction

Leni Riefenstahl was a German film director, her feature-length adaptation of Tiefland is a project understandably overshadowed by its own gestational history. The project began in early 1934 as a commission for a non-musical adaptation of the opera from Terra, a film company with an emerging reputation as a producer of propaganda vehicles for the National Socialists. On the one hand the German film revealingly locates that bond in a scene of instrumental music-making, as though flagging its own debt to technology by foregrounding the displacement of the vocal by the instrumental, of the resonating body by technologically mediated music-making. The shots of a bird of prey that are intercut with Pedro's music-making reinforce the totality, suggesting a fusion of man and nature, music and image: Pedro's pipe, the clarinet in the score, the soaring bird as the embodiment of nature, and the flute and piccolo that envoice it.