Propaganda film

A propaganda film is a film that involves some form of propaganda. Propaganda films may be packaged in numerous ways, but are most often documentary-style productions or fictional screenplays, that are produced to convince the viewer of a specific political point or influence the opinions or behavior of the viewer, often by providing subjective content that may be deliberately misleading.[1]

Propaganda is the ability "to produce and spread fertile messages that, once sown, will germinate in large human cultures.”[2] However, in the 20th century, a “new” propaganda emerged, which revolved around political organizations and their need to communicate messages that would “sway relevant groups of people in order to accommodate their agendas”.[3] First developed by the Lumiere brothers in 1896, film provided a unique means of accessing large audiences at once. Film was the first universal mass medium in that it could simultaneously influence viewers as individuals and members of a crowd, which led to it quickly becoming a tool for governments and non-state organizations to project a desired ideological message.[4] As Nancy Snow stated in her book, Information War: American Propaganda, Free Speech and Opinion Control Since 9-11, propaganda "begins where critical thinking ends."[5]

The Why We Fight Series depicts the Nazi propaganda machine.

Film as a propaganda tool

Film is a unique medium in that it reproduces images, movement, and sound in a lifelike manner as it fuses meaning with evolvement as time passes in the story depicted. Unlike many other art forms, film produces a sense of immediacy.[6] Film's ability to create the illusion of life and reality, opening up new, unknown perspectives on the world, is why films, especially those of unknown cultures or places, are taken to be accurate depictions of life.

Some film academics have noted film's great illusory abilities. Dziga Vertov claimed in his 1924 manifesto, “The Birth of Kino-Eye” that “the cinema-eye is cinema-truth.”[7] To paraphrase Hilmar Hoffmann, this means that in film, only what the camera ‘sees’ exists, and the viewer, lacking alternative perspectives, conventionally takes the image for reality.

Films are effective propaganda tools because they establish visual icons of historical reality and consciousness, define public attitudes of the time they're depicting or that at which they were filmed, mobilize people for a common cause, or bring attention to an unknown cause. Political and historical films represent, influence, and create historical consciousness and are able to distort events making it a persuasive and possibly untrustworthy medium.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Bennett, Todd. "The celluloid war: state and studio in Anglo-American propaganda film-making, 1939-1941." The International History Review 24.1 (March 2002): 64(34).
  2. ^ Combs, James. Film Propaganda and American Politics. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994. p.35
  3. ^ Combs, James. Film Propaganda and American Politics. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994. p.32
  4. ^ Taylor, Richard. Film Propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1979. 30-31
  5. ^ Snow, Nancy (2003). Information War: American Propaganda, Free Speech and Opinion Control Since 9-11. New York: Seven Stories Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-58322-557-8.
  6. ^ Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  7. ^ Resina, Joan. "Historical discourse and the propaganda film: Reporting in Barcelona". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  8. ^ Stern, Frank. "Screening Politics: Cinema and Intervention". Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Retrieved 5 November 2011.

External links

A Letter from Bataan

A Letter from Bataan is a 1942 "Victory Short" documentary film or propaganda film made by Paramount Pictures in collaboration with the U.S. Office of War Information and the United States Government. It was directed by William H. Pine, produced by William C. Thomas and written by Maxwell Shane. It had music by Daniele Amfitheatrof and the cinematography was by Fred Jackman Jr.

The film features Richard Arlen, Susan Hayward, Jimmy Lydon and Betty Hutton appearing as herself.

The film is part of a series of films made by Paramount intended to encourage more active participation in the U.S. war effort.

Alberto Cavalcanti

Alberto de Almeida Cavalcanti (February 6, 1897 – August 23, 1982) was a Brazilian-born film director and producer.

Compton Bennett

Herbert William Compton Bennett (15 January 1900 – 11 August 1974), better known as Compton Bennett, was an English film director, writer and producer. He is perhaps best known for directing the 1945 film The Seventh Veil and the 1950 version of the film King Solomon's Mines, an adaptation of an Allan Quatermain story.

Crown Film Unit

The Crown Film Unit was an organisation within the British Government's Ministry of Information during the Second World War. Formerly the GPO Film Unit it became the Crown Film Unit in 1940. Its remit was to make films for the general public in Britain and abroad. Its output included short information and documentary films, as well as longer drama-documentaries, as well as a few straight drama productions. The Crown Film Unit continued to produce films, as part of the Central Office of Information (COI), until it was disbanded in 1952.

Erich Waschneck

Erich John Waschneck (29 April 1887, Grimma, Kingdom of Saxony – 22 September 1970, Berlin ) was a German cameraman, director, screenwriter and film producer .

Every Mother's Son (1918 film)

Every Mother's Son is a lost 1918 silent war propaganda film produced and distributed by Fox Film Corporation and directed by Raoul Walsh.

GPO Film Unit

The GPO Film Unit was a subdivision of the UK General Post Office. The unit was established in 1933, taking on responsibilities of the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit. Headed by John Grierson, it was set up to produce sponsored documentary films mainly related to the activities of the GPO.

Among the films it produced were Harry Watt's and Basil Wright's Night Mail (1936), featuring music by Benjamin Britten and poetry by W. H. Auden, which is the best known. Directors who worked for the unit included Humphrey Jennings, Alberto Cavalcanti, Paul Rotha, Harry Watt, Basil Wright and a young Norman McLaren. Poet and memoirist Laurie Lee also worked as a scriptwriter in the unit from 1939-1940.

In 1940 the GPO Film Unit became the Crown Film Unit, under the control of the Ministry of Information.

In Autumn 2008 the British Film Institute issued a first collection of selected films from the Unit. Titled Addressing The Nation, it comprises fifteen titles from the years 1933 to 1935, including Song of Ceylon. A second volume, We Live In Two Worlds was released in February 2009, with 22 films covering the period 1936 to 1938, and includes Night Mail. A third (and final) volume, If War Should Come, appeared in July 2009 and includes London Can Take It!

Jan Vermeulen, the Miller of Flanders

Jan Vermeulen, the Miller of Flanders (German: Jan Vermeulen, der Müller aus Flandern) is a 1917 German silent war drama film directed by Georg Jacoby. It was made as a propaganda film by the German film agency BUFA, which generally specialised in making documentaries but also made feature films such as this and Dr. Hart's Diary.Location shooting took place around Bruges and Gent in German-occupied Belgian Flanders.

Joris Ivens

Georg Henri Anton "Joris" Ivens (18 November 1898 – 28 June 1989) was a Dutch documentary filmmaker. Among the notable films he directed or co-directed are A Tale of the Wind, The Spanish Earth, Rain, ...A Valparaiso, Misère au Borinage (Borinage), 17th Parallel: Vietnam in War, The Seine Meets Paris, Far from Vietnam, Pour le Mistral and How Yukong Moved the Mountains.

List of Allied propaganda films of World War II

During World War II and immediately after it, in addition to the many private films created to help the war effort, many Allied countries had governmental or semi-governmental agencies commission propaganda and training films for home and foreign consumption. Animated films are not included here.

Millions Like Us

Millions Like Us is a 1943 British propaganda film, showing life in a wartime aircraft factory in documentary detail. It starred Patricia Roc, Eric Portman, Megs Jenkins, Gordon Jackson and Anne Crawford, was written and directed by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. According to the British Film Institute database, this film is the first in an "unofficial trilogy", along with Two Thousand Women (1944) and Waterloo Road (1945).

Propaganda (film)

Propaganda is an award-winning 1999 Turkish comedy film written, directed and produced Sinan Çetin. The film, which is a darkly surreal comedy set in a sleepy village in the southeast Turkey in 1948, starred popular comedy actor Kemal Sunal, who died a year later in 2000. It was shown in competition at the 18th Istanbul International Film Festival and the 4th Shanghai International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Goblet, and went on general release across Turkey on January 5, 1999 (1999-01-05).

Propaganda in Nazi Germany

The propaganda used by the German Nazi Party in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany (1933–1945) was a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of Nazi policies. The pervasive use of propaganda by the Nazis is largely responsible for the word "propaganda" itself acquiring its present negative connotations.

The Big Blockade

The Big Blockade is a 1942 British black-and-white war propaganda film in the style of dramatised documentary. It is directed by Charles Frend and stars Will Hay, Leslie Banks, Michael Redgrave and John Mills. It was produced by Michael Balcon for Ealing Studios, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Warfare.At one stage the film was known as Siege.

The Victory of Faith

Not to be confused with the 1829 oratorio "Der Sieg des Glaubens" composed by Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) to libretto by Johann Baptist Rousseau (1802-1867).Der Sieg des Glaubens (English: The Victory of Faith, Victory of Faith, or Victory of the Faith) (1933) is the first propaganda film directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the Nazi Party, which occurred in Nuremberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933. The film is of great historic interest because it shows Adolf Hitler and Ernst Röhm on close and intimate terms, before Röhm was shot on the orders of Hitler during the Night of the Long Knives on 1 July 1934. All known copies of the film were destroyed on Hitler's orders, and it was considered lost until a copy turned up in the 1990s in the United Kingdom.

The form of the film is very similar to her later and much more expansive film of the 1934 rally, Triumph of the Will. Der Sieg des Glaubens is Nazi propaganda for the Nazi Party, which funded and promoted the film, which celebrates the victory of the Nazis in achieving power when Hitler assumed the role of Chancellor of Germany in February 1933.

Veit Harlan

Veit Harlan (22 September 1899 – 13 April 1964) was a German film director and actor.

Wolfgang Liebeneiner

Wolfgang Georg Louis Liebeneiner (6 October 1905 – 28 November 1987) was a German actor, film director and theatre director.

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