In Sontag’s article, she likens the act of looking at photography to being in Plato’s cave, but in a positive way, as what the camera captures is not necessarily what is understood or interpreted by the viewer. At the same time, the very taking of a picture with a camera changes the subject’s meaning, and Sontag notes that today’s more consumerist culture values taking a picture of doing something more than doing that thing itself.
Sontag – “Fascinating Fascism”
In Sontag’s review of these two books, she discusses Riefenstahl’s The Last of the Nuba in the context of her career, describing her as an effective artist, but making it clear that we should not forget she was a part of the Nazi Party and its propaganda wing. Secondly, she covers SS Regalia, discussing the importance of sadomasochism and how it relates to Nazi imagery.
Kracauer - “Montage”
Kracauer’s chapter on Montage describes the art form of montage and its German origins with works by Karl Freund and Bela Balazs. German cross-section films are also described as important and historical pictures of realistic German street life. These films, like People on Sunday, helped to show the everyday lives of people in a timeless cross-section known as ‘montage.’
Kracauer – “Devices”
Kracauer notes the film devices used in Nazi propaganda films, including artistic effects such as unique editing and Expressionistic cinematography. The visual appeal of films like Triumph of the Will is blamed for its effectiveness, with contrasted close-ups and leitmotifs to achieve a greater sense of cinematic artistry. Music is also used to manipulate emotions and create uniquely nationalist sentiments in these films, making them particularly effective as propaganda.
Kracauer. “Film Devices” Propaganda and the Nazi War Film.
Kracauer - “Montage.” Propaganda and the Nazi War Film.
Sontag, Susan. “Fascinating Fascism.” The New York Review of Books February 6, 1975.
Sontag, Susan. “In Plato’s Cave.” In On Photography.