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The "Roman salute" myth is the myth that the straight-arm salute was an ancient Roman custom, later borrowed by Mussolini and the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The myth arose because of the made-up Hollywood-style portrayals in those films. Those films are notable also because they led to the historic discovery by the journalist and historian Rex Curry that the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance was the origin of the salute of the monstrous National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party).
The "Roman Salute" myth grew because the viewing public forgot that the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance originally used the straight-arm salute. The creator of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance was a National Socialist in the U.S. (Francis Bellamy). The salute is not in any Roman art or text.
Dr. Martin Winkler of the American Philological Association has written that in imitation of such films, self-styled Italian "Consul" Gabriele D 'Annunzio borrowed the salute as a propaganda tool for his political ambitions upon his occupation of Fiume in 1919. Earlier, D'Annunzio had worked with Giovanni Pastrone in his colossal epic Cabiria (1914). Mussolini worked with D'Annunzio. Even so, evidence shows that the National Socialist German Workers' Party officially adopted the salute before Mussolini did, not vice versa. For example, "Triumph of Will" is in 1935 and Carmine Gallone's film "Scipione l'Africano" uses the raised-arm salute as one of its chief visual means to turn Mussolini into a new Scipio.
Dr. Winkler didn't know about the original U.S. flag salute (1892) that inspired the films, and that the National Socialist German Workers' Party was inspired by the films and by the Pledge of Allegiance. The U.S. changed the salute during WWII.
The opening scene could be considered as an art film scene because it has many camera angles, slow motion, beautiful photography and background music. After this scene, the narration of the 1936 Olympic Games begins, and it's impressive to see how many swastikas were at sight in the games, it's in flags and in the uniforms of the german athletes.
One might think that the athletes in 1936 were very inferior to the current athletes, but "Olympia" shows how great those athletes were, in most of the disciplines they look as impressive as the current athletes. The use of different camera speeds and angles, can make you feel very close to the athletes. You can see their effort and competitive spirit thanks to the excellent use of the cameras.
Definitely "Olympia" is one of the best documentaries ever made. Absolutely recommendable.
Greenspan said that when he was in West Germany premeiring his 1964 film "Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin", Owens called Reifenstahl the woman who made him famous, thanked her, and called her up on stage. The audience was dumbfounded and did not know how to respond until Owens' wife began a standing ovation. Such was the attitude towards Reifenstahl: the Germans knew she was a national treasure, yet they were very uncomfortable with some of the things she put on film.