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Characters and Attitude

LENI RIEFENSTAHL

Leni is an independent filmmaker who is making a name for herself in the industry. By accident and unintentional, she gets sucked into a nazi regime and is persuaded to make films for them. Her unique view on films from an independent view are a breath of fresh air when compared to conventional propaganda films. Her films are the first that people honestly like to watch. This makes her the most prominent filmmaker of Nazi Germany. When the 1936 Olympics come closer and closer, Leni is asked to direct a propaganda film about the Olympic Games.

At the Olympics, she decides to completely throw the propaganda part out of the window. She films an objective version, showing all athletes as equals, and nations defeating Germany more than once. She also makes no distinction between races or skin colours. At first, this is met with controversy by the Nazi party, but when the film is completed, Leni is universally applauded for the end result.

AVERY BRUNDAGE

After a mildly successful career as an athlete, Avery became a member of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union). After three years at the AAU, he became the president of the USOC (United States Olympic Committee).

As seen in Race, Avery’s only focus is sports. He desperately wants the U.S. to participate in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. After an internal conflict in the USOC, he is sent to Germany to meet with Joseph Goebbels, to make sure no players are declined the right to participate, no matter the race or religion. One problem: Goebbels is a wintered politician, while Avery is not.

This creates pressure for Avery, as he has to negotiate about more than just sports: Goebbels wants to solidify Nazi Germany’s reputation in the U.S. This means that Avery transforms from a simple-minded ex-athlete into an experienced representative for the whole of the U.S.

AVERY BRUNDAGE

After a mildly successful career as an athlete, Avery became a member of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union). After three years at the AAU, he became the president of the USOC (United States Olympic Committee).

As seen in Race, Avery’s only focus is sports. He desperately wants the U.S. to participate in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. After an internal conflict in the USOC, he is sent to Germany to meet with Joseph Goebbels, to make sure no players are declined the right to participate, no matter the race or religion. One problem: Goebbels is a wintered politician, while Avery is not.

This creates pressure for Avery, as he has to negotiate about more than just sports: Goebbels wants to solidify Nazi Germany’s reputation in the U.S. This means that Avery transforms from a simple-minded ex-athlete into an experienced representative for the whole of the U.S.

JOSEPH GOEBBELS

Joseph Goebbels is the minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany. Avery Brundage arrives in Germany and asks to speak to him, making sure that the Olympics will go according to plan. Goebbels has to juggle between the relationships with other countries and the Nazis’ ideals. He starts out as a normal high-ranking politician in a controversial regime. At the end though, Joseph is renowned within the Nazi party, but infamous and feared by all others.

His relation with Leni is uncomfortable. At first, he does not see any use in Leni’s reforms on propaganda films. He wants to force a more conservative way of communication to the masses. Leni is obviously oppossed to this. To make things even worse, Leni claims that Joseph tried to build a more romantic relationship with her, these advances were declined by Leni.

JESSE OWENS

Jesse is a controversial part of Olympia. He beats the Germans on many of the Olympic disciplines. Leni decides to include him in Olympia nonetheless.

Although he does not play the most prominent role in this story, it is important. Jesse’s motivation to even participate in the Olympics was not set in stone, something that can be seen in Race. After winning multiple gold medals, he had proven that race does not matter in sports. This is something he is proud of, because he was at risk of confirming the Nazis’ theory that black people are inferior.

At first, he has no interest in Leni’s film when he is still competing. However, after he won his medals, he made sure he was included in Olympia, to ampify his message about racial equality.

JESSE OWENS

Jesse is a controversial part of Olympia. He beats the Germans on many of the Olympic disciplines. Leni decides to include him in Olympia nonetheless.

Although he does not play the most prominent role in this story, it is important. Jesse’s motivation to even participate in the Olympics was not set in stone, something that can be seen in Race. After winning multiple gold medals, he had proven that race does not matter in sports. This is something he is proud of, because he was at risk of confirming the Nazis’ theory that black people are inferior.

At first, he has no interest in Leni’s film when he is still competing. However, after he won his medals, he made sure he was included in Olympia, to ampify his message about racial equality.

ARNOLD FANCK

Arnold is the one who transformed Leni from an obscure actor into a true film director. Fanck was a pioneer in the film industry himself, and he taught Leni the ropes. Leni played in multiple films by Fanck. The Holy Mountain (1926) was the first one. Later, in 1929, Riefenstahl featured in The White Hell of Pitz Palu, where Riefenstahl started making a name for herself.

Fanck is the go-to mentor for Leni. He encourages her to do what has not been done before, something Leni is forever grateful for. Because Leni was not in a steady relationship during these times, Fanck was the one person she could trust. He was not involved with the Nazis at all. He is even known to have gotten in trouble with Jospeh Goebbels for refusing to work on a propaganda film. This put him in financial difficulties, meaning he had to accept a contract from the Japanese, also against his will.

Fanck is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He wants to create films, but the Nazi regime forces him to lend his talent to benefit the Reich. The one thing he can take pride in, is his mentorship for Leni. Leni has built up enough credits with the Nazis to create her own work. Fanck is conflicted by this, but decides to support her and make the best possible content that still satisfies the Nazis, but also brings a more objective and less drilling version of propaganda to citizens.